This review is written by Dai Woosnam,firstname.lastname@example.org, 6/03
All the songs on this CD are entirely self-penned, with the exception of one co-written with Annie Gallup and another co-written with Karen Mal.
It appears that Jeff is one of Austin Texas's leading singer/songwriters. I say "it appears" because I confess to having been sublimely unaware of his existence until this review copy appeared on my doormat, courtesy of the postman. I have been quickly making up for lost time and checking him out.
This is his fourth self-released album in the last five years. Gosh! He is not hanging about! What have I missed? Well on the strength of this, it's hard to say. For sure though, there is much in the credit column.
He immediately comes across as supremely self-assured. His insights are often perceptive and penetrating. He doesn't seem the sort of guy who'd have the wool pulled over his eyes. Indeed, if Eric Chandler's "Private Eye" Philip Marlowe could sing, he'd probably sound like this.
Assisting Jeff on this CD are Bradley Kopp, guitars and backing vocals; Randy McCullough and Laurie Singer, backing vocals; Karen Mal, backing vocals and guitars; Michael Hardwick, dobro; Richard Bowden, violin and mandolin; Chip Dolan, accordion and piano; Peter Keane, guitars; Paul Pearcy, percussion and drums; Glenn Fukunaga, bass; and Rich Brock, harmonica.
The production is clean as a whistle, and each instrument of every member of the extended band comes through crystal clear. And Talmadge sings with some authority. So there is much to praise here.
But the thing I would REALLY want to praise - and I suspect, the aspect of his art that he is proudest of - I regret that I can not. And that is his songwriting.
Melodically, the songs do not do it for me. Nor do the lyrics really make a way to my HEAD let alone my heart. Sure there are (as I've stated) some sharp insights: but perception ALONE does not make a songwriter. Yes, I am aware that Jeff has won several awards for his songs: maybe they were better on his previous three albums. I cannot see him winning any awards for these. (If I have just identified myself as a dunce, then so be it: I can only say what I feel in my heart.)
But all that said, the fact remains he is a talent, for sure. I look forward to encountering further examples of his work.
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