Postcards From Magdalena: Jeff Crosby (At The Helm Records)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This music washes over me like the warm blue water of the South Pacific. No one really knows how to adequately define what Americana is. After all, Americana is just a word and really does not describe the music at all. Also, Americana seems to encompass musical styles from gospel to blues and almost everything in between. So to answer the question – what is Americana? is a difficult question to answer. If I could point to one album that totally exemplifies Americana, I think this may be it. Honest song writing, twang, some crunchy guitars, and just extremely listenable music. 

The whole shebang starts off with one of the most wonderful, effect laden, guitar solos I have heard. It is chock full of delay, reverb, and other good stuff, that makes something other-worldly. Best $25 I’ve Ever Spent (Track 1) hits me immediately with some great guitar work that touches my soul. Then add the great idiosyncratic vocals, and you have a formula for success.  
The album concludes in a very fitting fashion with the tune Hotel Bibles (Track 10). A melancholy number that reflects heavily on love lost. Regrets. A very honest account of a relationship that went south. Jeff doesn’t pull any punches. He gives a very honest account of his own weaknesses and faults. That type of true honesty and accountability is rare. It is rare in songwriting and even rarer in the real world. So we can conclude that Jeff is a stand up guy, willing to admit his shortcomings and willing to do something about them.      
This may be the first time you have heard of Jeff Crosby, but he is no newcomer. He has been making his bones for the last decade criss-crossing the country playing gigs in excess of 250 per year. If that isn’t the definition of a troubadour, please enlighten me. Jeff has paid his dues, learning his craft. Studying how to be a songwriter and performer. Postcards From Magdalena is the deliverable for a ten year body of work. It is certainly evidence that hard work and dedication pay off. So don’t give up on your dreams, kids. 
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