You may or may not know his name but Texas native, now Nashville-based singer/songwriter Jarrod Dickenson has toured in recent years with revered artists like Don McLean and Bonnie Raitt. He’s played festivals such as Glastonbury and Country 2 Country (C2C), and headlined his own tours in Europe, highlighted by a sold-out jaunt in the U.K. last year.
The May 22 release of his 10-track album Ready the Horses will see his music reach new audiences. And fans should be prepared for an eclectic mix: Americana, country-soul, folk, and “junkyard blues” (as his bio puts it).
The album was recorded in England, where it got its first release a few years ago (via the legendary Decca Records label). This release (his third LP, following Ashes on the Ground and The Lonesome Traveler) is intended to get more exposure to fans in his home territory.
“Faint of Heart” gets the album started with a midtempo bluesy groove. “Take It From Me” then saunters in with warm Hammond organ swells and sax motifs that help give the tune that old, soulfully slow blues spirit used by countless blues-indebted artists, including Joe Bonamassa and even the Saturday Night Live band – think “Closing Theme (A Waltz in A).”
What follows is the acoustic country/folk beauty of “Your Heart Belongs to Me,” in which Dickenson’s wife Claire steals the spotlight with her sweet vocal cameo.
“Gold Rush” is the big standout, with its Tom Waits/Leonard Cohen feel and populist appeal, as Dickenson compares current Wall Street excess to the greed in 1800s California. My ears only wish the sax solo near the end was a tad longer and more fleshed out.
Quiet album-closing country ballad “I Won’t Quit” evokes latter day (Devils & Dust-era) Bruce Springsteen and soothes the soul with pedal steel and delicate acoustic guitar.
Dickenson’s vocals can sound almost pitchy in some places, but the album was recorded live to two-inch tape, so he gets credit for preserving the raw emotions of that process.
Ready the Horses is a gem of a record, one you may find yourself playing from start to finish, uninterrupted – the ultimate compliment for any artist’s work. Mixing up genres and moods contributes to such a thorough listen, as does compelling storytelling (the jovial, dive bars-themed “Way Past Midnight” and “A Cowboy & the Moon” come to mind). All in all, if you’re looking for a solid new addition to your quarantine collection, don’t pass this one up.
Jarrod Dickenson’s Ready the Horses is out on Hooked Records this Friday, May 22. Watch the video for “Gold Rush” below and visit JarrodDickenson.com.