With the gentle country opener Darling, I Miss You When You’re With Me you can immediately feel yourself back in the days of Don Williams, Waylon Jennings & Stoney Edwards. The heartfelt lyrics with a faint honkytonk feeling and traditional country sound give me a feeling of coming home. It’s the music I grew up with (despite being born in the eighties I was raised on country music), and Jeep Rosenberg found a way to make me travel back in time. New music, same great feelings and messages. The slightly alternative country song Everything’s Different, though not my favorite, has a catchy beat to it and might actually do well on folk/country radio. The breezy, almost surfy folk approach in the song shows great diversity but the warmth and comfort I felt in the opening track is something that I find to sound more natural with Rosenberg’s vocals.
On Whatever Happened To Mercy?, Jeep Rosenberg kind of finds middle ground between the more folky, breezy sound and the warmer country sound. While I still think the more traditional country sound suits him better, Rosenberg shows he’s a quality songwriter and performer on this song. With some mild blues-influences, this country-folk song is a very decent song that does seem to get better every time you hear it.
In The World’s Worst Places is a very heartfelt, emotional song that has a little bit of Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen in it, though more melodical. But it has that vocal presence that these musical giants portray(ed) too. This song shows Jeep Rosenberg on his very best. While the more breezy, surfy, folky sound didn’t come out as well on some of the previous tracks, Rosenberg nails it on Dallas, with a sound that is somewhere between Donovan and Donavan Frankenreiter, with a more country approach maybe, Jeep Rosenberg shines all through the song. After these excellent songs, Rosenberg continues with a nice country song with strong influences from the honky tonk & bluegrass movements. I Can’t Go Home Again has a traditional sound that flows nicely and shows that this artist has a whole lot going for him.
The more uptempo The Seeking Kid has a rock & roll approach that you would expect if you’d let John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival) play Waylon Jennings songs for example. It’s somewhere in the middle of that pretty vast musical area. But like it takes no effort at all, Rosenberg fills the gap with complete confidence and great musicianship. It’s right in the middle of rock & roll and country, and this approach was made for Rosenberg.
Just like on In The World’s Worst Places, Rosenberg provides the same distinct vocal presence on La Ultima Lagrima which strongly reminds me of Johnny Cash. While no one will ever be able to top Cash, Jeep Rosenberg does a great job at coming close to the highest standard set by the Man in Black. And with the groovy, rootsy country song Here, Rosenberg provides quite a contrast, yet you can still hear it’s the same artist. Rosenberg has a sort of signature sound but unlike many bands and artists who have a signature sound like that, he’s able to vary and show diversity within a genre and even crossing genres.
The album ends with a more storytelling country approach. It’s a song that is still growing on me. Afterglow has a bit of a gentle country approach with a contemporary feel. The strumming guitar and warm vocals give this song a gentle and soothing feeling and again reminds me of Don Williams and Stoney Edwards somewhat.
As a longtime fan and supporter of roots & country music, Jeep Rosenberg was a welcome surprise for me. I’ve heard so many bands and artists in the genre, and so many are just another band or another singer/songwriter looking around the corner. Not that they were necessarily bad, but they weren’t great either. Some have the potential to become great, but only once in awhile I find a band or artist that shows greatness right away. Rosenberg, though there is definitely some room for development, shows he’s a very accomplished songwriter and in his performing, he shows the warmth and heartfelt honesty in his music that reminds me of the old days of traditional country between the late 40s and early 70s. He doesn’t sound dated, but takes the best from that time and uses it in his excellent songs that are a bright light for contemporary country music.