JJ Schultz “Bustin’ Outa Town” (Last Stop 2004)
This collection has traces of Young, Farrar, Parsons and a little Arlo Guthrie in it. With the welcome rise and rise of the American singer/songwriter showing no signs of slacking it's getting harder to pick the real talent out of the swirling mass, especially with the number of new acts emerging. It’s no exaggeration to say that Schultz is definitely in with a chance of rising to the top of the pot. This excellent record provides all the elements - thoughtful, lilting tracks, an individual voice and great musicianship, but it also has that x-factor that separates the CD one might play occasionally from the one which is straight on to the MP3 player after a single listen. The record is almost entirely acoustic, and Schultz is at his strongest alone with his guitar, but refreshingly the tracks into which he imports slide guitar, violin, drums, stand-up bass, harmonica or mandolin don’t feel over-produced or fleshed-out. Schultz, a Californian, is helped by a distinctive voice, complete with the odd hitch here and there (most noticeable on “Max My Dog”). Fans of the acoustic genre will almost certainly approve, and if they happen to think a song's not a song without tipping its hat to dust, dogs, love, beer and radiators they'll be all the happier. Of the ten studio and two live tracks on the record, the six-minute “Country Backroad”, the story of a refrigerator repairman driving home to propose to his girlfriend, is the defining composition. There’s plenty of good fare for the alt-country listener to get their teeth into, with tracks like “Song Of The Independent Rancher” and the title track “Bustin’ Outa Town”, and a good deal of humour too thanks to “Me And Elvis (We’d Be Friends)” and “Need A Pen”. Joyfully difficult to categorise, this collection has traces of Young, Farrar, Parsons and a little Arlo Guthrie, together with the gritty American story telling of Earle and Van Zandt in it and introduces a singer/songwriter with the genuine potential to rise to the next level.
Date review added: Friday, April 22, 2005
Reviewer: James Clark
Related web link: JJ Schultz web site