MP3 Jefferson Thomas - LIVE
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11 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Roots Rock, POP: with Live-band Production
Thereâs something about an outdoor live show that just doesnât sound or feel like anything else. Put that show in New Yorkâs Central Park, and now youâve got a unique feel, a sound, an overall singular experience not quite like any other. New Yorkâs own Jefferson Thomas has hosted an artist residency series in the park for the last two years now, and no one is more awestruck at the experience than the indie/twang/alt-rock singer-songwriter himself. Jefferson Thomas Live is his attempt to capture it. And more.
âYou do clubs, thereâs a certain energy, and I like that. You do concerts, thereâs that âhugeâ thing, which is cool, too. You do acoustic listening rooms, thereâs a purity and an intimacy there. The first time I did Central Park, it was all three. I was so ready for this âhugeâ concert vibe, and it blew me away how wrong I was. Suddenly, it wasnât about how much ass you and the band are kicking; thereâs this vast frigging CITY out there. They gather around you, and thereâs this whole community just buzzing, and if you try too hard to be the happening thing, you actually lose them. Itâs like a Zen thing - if you try to dictate to them, you wonât get much out of it, but if you let them lead you, theyâll pull a show out of you that you never knew you had in you. What I love about the Central Park recordings is that we managed to capture it all; lots of people listening, some people actually not listening, kids running around, skateboard dudes wiping out, dogs barking, weddings going by - itâs all there.â
What also is there is some fine rocking by Thomas and his band. The lazy boogie of âRocket Riderâ stretches out past the six-minute mark with a full swing breakdown, achieving jam-band proportions. âMaryâs Night Outâ exudes a cannabis-tinged swagger that would make Tom Petty proud. âDustyâ, a rustic, swampy acoustic trip on 2005âs Come Alive album, gets downright noisy and nasty here. A daring a capella rendering of Sam Cookeâs âA Change Is Gonna Comeâ closes out the Central Park segment, and shows that Thomas doesnât necessarily need a guitar to hide behind.
But the best part about Jefferson Thomas Live might be six tracks in, where the setting changes to solo acoustic performances in smaller venues from stops in Phoenix and Los Angeles during Thomasâ summer tour of 2006. âSnakeâ was probably conceived as a heavy Soundgarden-esque rocker, but weâll never know, because Thomasâ restrained, fingerpicked treatment delivers the cautionary tale of addiction just fine. âGoldâ is Thomas burned out and rejuvenated all at once, and âMrs. Sherwoodâ could be his Dylan moment.
The album closes with two new studio offerings, âThursdayâs Girlâ and âGrand Central Stationâ, both tightly-written and produced with enough modesty to leave us waiting for the next studio release. But if only weâd had live renderings of these as well.
Live albums are always a dangerous nut to crack, especially for someone who isnât exactly a household name. But with a healthy dose of restraint and modesty, Jefferson Thomas Live works just fine.
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