Jive Mother Mary hail from Alamance County, North Carolina, and their southern roots are proudly displayed on their ten-song debut, All Fall Down. From the opening riff to the slide guitar on the last track, it’s obvious this trio has dutifully studied Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and classic blues rockers in general; and they've begun to fashion their own unique take on that sound. I can imagine every one of these tunes sounding great live in a smoky bar, most likely south of the Mason-Dixon.
The album was recorded and produced in Raleigh by John Custer of Cry of Love, COC, and Dag fame. Several songs have interesting layers of acoustics, slide guitars, vocal harmonies, and keyboards; but the overall production is that of a live, raw and bluesy rock band. The trio is still very young—all three were still in high school when the album was released in August 2009—but they have impressive musical chops. Mason Keck (vocal and guitars) is the standout. Keck’s lead guitar playing immediately draws attention, as he has all the stylings of the blues-rock guitar heroes. His vocal delivery at times has a hint of early Daniel Johns from Silverchair, another band that started young. It adds a nice touch to the bluesy sound.
The album opens with “Let Me In,” which builds from a bluesy flange guitar riff with an acoustic in the background and then kicks into a rocking riff that lets Keck showcase his guitar licks. “Another New Never” is a nice change of pace with a mellow vocal harmony and a nice Skynyrd-meets-Blind-Melon vibe. “Save Me” stands out as a possible single, again showcasing Keck’s guitar playing and John Custer’s production skills. “Catalina” has a distinct Zeppelin flare that adds variety to the band’s repertoire and depth to the album. Keck plays a solo acoustic slide on “Holy Roller,” which is the bluesiest track overall and seems to be a mixed tribute to the Delta and Appalachia. The album concludes with “All Fall Down,” which finds Keck returning to the slide guitar to sing about “going to the river” before it blasts into a slow, heavy, grinding riff that would make Nugent proud.
The only real weaknesses on the album are the few songs that get away from the blues rock sound and lean towards cliché eighties power-chord rock riffs. The band is still young and honing their identity and sound, but if this is where they’re starting, they can hardly go wrong. All Fall Down is a strong independent debut from a young southern rock band that is sure to draw further attention to themselves as they play live to support it.