Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I root for the hometown guys and Cris Jacobs is definitely a hometown hero. He grew up in Baltimore, just like me. He also fronted a very popular band, The Bridge, from 2001 through 2011. I had the good fortune of seeing Cris and his bands quite a few times throughout the years. He has played a number of Dr. Michael Feinglass Cancer Foundation benefits. This foundation is named in my cousin’s memory who was taken way too early by colon cancer. Cris is very altruistic and willing to donate his time and talents to a worthy cause. The one thing had always been apparent, Cris is immensely talented and an absolutely great performer.
Cris’ roots are in the jam band arena, but this album is much more than just a jam band record. First of all, there are no super long songs on this album, which is fine with me. Most songs clock in around the four minute mark and no songs are longer than 5:45. I don’t know about you, but I lose my focus after about 6 minutes or so.
Dust To Gold is a wonderful collection of tunes that span the genres from swamp rock, blues, soul, to country. It is listed as Americana but that only scratches the surface of the genres that are crossed on this album. Jack The Whistle And The Hammer (Track 4) is a standout among standouts. It is a swampy, boogie woogie number that you just can’t help but move to. It starts off a little like a Grateful Dead number ala Big Railroad Blues but quickly evolves into a song that would make Lowell George proud. It definitely sounds like something Lowell George could have penned during his days as leader of Little Feat. Comparisons aside, this number is a classic in its own rights. It is the first song I heard off of Dust To Gold so I knew this record was going to be a good one. Cris does some major league guitar picking on this track as well.
Leaving Charm City (Track 12) is a country ballad about leaving home. Charm City is a nickname for Baltimore, hon. If you don’t understand the hon part, you aren’t from around here. This song could be played alongside Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams, and Steve Earle. Yes, it holds up to those guys. The song is written and sung beautifully. Lovely pedal steel guitar makes this number a classic for sure. So if you thought Cris Jacobs could just play Allman and Dead covers, you were wrong. Dust To Gold proves his talent and diverse musical well he draws on.