JD McPHERSON: UNDIVIDED HEART AND SOUL (New West Records)
Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This is truly amazing. This is a B horror movie, a drive in, and a 1966 Chevelle kind of music. Something I observed, everything on the album is in all caps, including the song titles. Hmmmmmm…… Maybe he is trying to indicate that the music and he are one, on the same level. He is all about the music. Maybe there is no meaning whatsoever, JD just thought it was a good idea. I don’t rightfully know, but it is something to ponder.
JD has definitely drifted into some new territory for UNDIVIDED HEART AND SOUL. This is still plenty full of old rhythm and blues, but one important element was added. A little psychedelia. Just look at that album cover. If that doesn’t look like an acid trip gone awry, tell me. Some of the tracks sound as if The Cramps hooked up with Otis Redding for a one night stand. Very novel presentation for JD. The experiment paid off. This album ranks quite high on the listen-ability scale.
HUNTING FOR SUGAR (Track 4) is absolutely brilliant. It is pure 1968 rhythm and blues ala Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson. It has a very nostalgic feel to it. I also love the accent of the bells. It adds to the late ’60s vibe to it. Another song that has at least 500 plays in its future.
To follow HUNTING FOR SUGAR, ON THE LIPS (Track 5) is a song that goes in a completely different direction. While HUNTING FOR SUGAR was deeply steeped in late ’60s R&B, ON THE LIPS is more mid ’80s alternative pop. What is the same is JD’s voice, which is pitch perfect and strong as an ox. This song definitely takes me back a few years to the days of The Jesus And Mary Chain and The Smiths.
The album starts off with a tune that is part R&B and part psychedelic surf music. DESPERATE LOVE (Track 1) is a perfect blending of crooning and Spaghetti Western. This tune certainly conjures up images of the hot desert and nothing in sight for miles, save cacti and the wavy heat off the road and the sand. The standout on this number, and all numbers, is JD’s voice.
A broken record indeed, but I am going to say it again. This is a must have for 2017. JD McPherson has proven that not only is he for real, he has longevity. This music is different than the first release, yet still completely enjoyable listening. This may be the biggest departure from JD’s roots, but he proved he not only can pull it off, he can make incredible music in the process.