Artist: JEFF BLACK
Album: HONEY AND SALT
Release Date: 2003
Label: Lotos Nile Music
UPC: 751653100127

Jeff Black vocals acoustic guitar
electric guitar piano harmonica accordion
David Jacques electric and acoustic upright bass
Will Kimbrough electric guitar mandolin
Jody Nardone piano organ
Craig Wright drums percussion

Produced by Jeff Black
Recorded by Gary Paczosa at Nightengale
and Omni in Nashville TN
except "One Last Day To Live" and "The Leaving"
produced and recorded by Paul Mahern and Jeff Black
at Echo Park in Bloomington Indiana
Mixed by Paul Mahern
Mastered by Jim Demain

All lyrics and music written by Jeff Black
All songs published by Lotos Nile Music BMI
except "Rain" published by
Jeff Black Music/Coburn Music BMI
Photographs by Michael Wilson
Art direction/design by Jeff Black
Jeff Black plays Epiphone Masterbilt Banjos, Paige capos, Morley Pedals, Impact Picks, Palomino Blackwing and Blackwing 602 pencils.



    


FOLKWAX MAGAZINE

06/11/03

The story goes that circa the turn of the new century, Honey And Salt, should have been Jeff Black's sophomore release on the Arista Austin label. Instead, like countless musicians before him, Black joined the lengthening queue of artists who found their music career headed for the dumpster, following the collapse/restructuring of yet another label. All was not lost, however, and two angels came to the rescue in the form of former Arista Austin executives Dan Harrington and Scott Robinson, who founded the independent Dualtone Records. That imprint released Black's B-Sides And Confessions, Volume 1 and in FolkWax Issue #104 we reviewed the recording, awarding it a "9." Which brings us to Honey And Salt, the shelved sophomore set. Edgar Heckmann came to the rescue, and his German-based Blue Rose label issued the disc at the beginning of 2003.

A ten-track collection, two of the cuts - "One Last Day To Live" and "The Leaving" - were recorded at Echo Park Studios in Bloomington, Indiana and were co-produced by Black and Paul Mahern. Mahern is a native of Indianapolis, where he played in the bands Zero Boys and Datura Seed. Echo Park Studio is owned by John Mellencamp's guitarist, Mike Wanchic, and his partner, Mark Hood. The remainder of the disc, produced by Black, was recorded at Omni and Nightengale Studio in Tennessee. Gary Paczosa, who has worked with Alison Krauss, Dixie Chicks and Nickel Creek, recorded and engineered the Tennessee sessions.

Where, aurally, B-Sides And Confessions, Volume 1 was essentially an acoustic recording, Black is supported on Honey And Salt by a four-piece band consisting of Will Kimbrough [guitar/mandolin], Joey Nardone [piano/organ], David Jacques [bass] and Craig Wright [drums]. Six of the cuts are medium-paced, roots Rock numbers in a blue collar vein ala Springsteen/Mellencamp, while the remainder are acoustic ballads.

"One Last Day To Live," opens the album. Subjectively the lyric, explores the scenario "If you had one last day to live, And your soul was free from doubt," what would you do? In later verses "doubt" is replaced by "fear" and "shame." Basically the song is an evocation not to waste time, but to live each and every day to its fullest extent, and to express to those near and dear to you, what your true feelings are. Featuring a restrained electric guitar throughout the album title cut, Black delivers the punch line in the closing line of the final verse with, "Is it a sweeter life, By the trial we share."

While "Rain" is probably the nearest to a full on Rock track, ala Springsteen, the song possesses a discernable melody. Slowing the tempo, Jeff is supported by a piano on the bittersweet "Time." Visiting an old flame, who doesn't "seem too amused" to see him, the narrator in "Time" sets out his store with "I see you in the morning sun, In the flight of the blue heron" and "I see in the evening sky, And I see you in my dreams." Black goes on to set a seal on this, long dead, relationship with "This song was easy to write, It just came to me last night, It only took me fifteen years."

A matter of four minutes long and delivered semi-spoken, as "The Leaving" unfolds it captures the disintegration and termination of a relationship. An Echo Park recording, an acoustic guitar, piano and shaker support Black's voice. In the lyric, poetic images merge with those rooted in reality - "She grabbed up a few things she needed, Her heart her soul, The keys to the car and she left, It was a gray day" and "It's hard to see the future, looking backwards through a telescope" being two superb examples.

"You Belong To Me" and "Shout From The Street" find Jeff ploughing through more blue collar territory again, only to slow the pace once more for the penultimate cut, "Persephone." Up front there's an acoustic guitar and mandolin, and in the background a piano, as, founded upon the legend of Persephone - queen of the underworld, Black's lyric encapsulates the narrator's helpless infatuation - "And sometimes I get the feeling, When I'm knocking at the door, That with the devil I'm dealing, But I keep coming back for more." The closing selection, "Home," is equally restrained and based around acoustic instruments, as the narrator dreams of the "sweet girl" that he is finally returning to "keep her safe till I get there."

Currently only released in Europe, you will have deduced by now that this Jeff Black album is yet another gem, and is available on the internet from www.bluesrose.com. On this German-based site, an English language option is available, just look out for the US flag. I've been reliably informed that Black is also selling this recording at his gigs.


Arthur Wood is a founding editor of FolkWax



AMAZON.DE

Rezensionen Aus der Amazon.de-Redaktion Hatte sich Jeff Black bei seinem Debütalbum Birmingham Road noch auf die tatkräftige Unterstützung eines großen Teils der Band Wilco verlassen, so verzichtete er auf seinem Zweitling Honey And Salt auf die prominente Schützenhilfe. Mit den neuen Musikern geriet Honey And Salt zu einer soliden Roots-Rockscheibe, die stellenweise -- etwa bei "Shout From The Street" oder "Rain" -- stark an Bruce Springsteen erinnert. Trotzdem tut man Jeff Black Unrecht, wenn man ihn vorschnell in eine vorgefertigte Schublade abschiebt. Der Sänger und Multiinstrumentalist, der das Album selbst produziert hat, ist ein ausgereifter Songwriter, unter dessen kantigem Sound geradezu poetische Texte zum Vorschein kommen.

Hat man eine Weile zugehört und sich in die Texte in dem schön gemachten Booklet von Honey And Salt vertieft, kommt einem der ehemalige Türsteher aus Kansas gar nicht mehr wie der grobe Klotz vor, als der er auf den ersten Blick gewirkt hat. Tatsächlich kann die raue Shouter-Stimme des Mannes aus Missouri auch ganz gefühlvoll klingen, ohne dass gleich Kuschelrock daraus wird. Hat man das Album zu Ende gehört, sind es tatsächlich eher die langsamen, balladenartigen Songs wie "Time", "The Leaving", "Persephone" oder "Home" als die Rocker, die einen dauerhaften Eindruck hinterlassen. Dennoch ist es gerade die Mischung aus beidem, das Honey And Salt zu einem Dauerläufer im CD-Spieler werden lässt.

Albrecht Volk

One Last Day To Live

if you had one last day to live
and your soul was free from doubt
would you tell them how you feel
would you rise before the sun
would you write a letter home
would you try to make amends

does the light look different now
does it break without a sound
does it make you laugh out loud
like when you were a child

if you had one last day to live
and your soul was free from fear
would you kill that monster now, dead
would you race the summer wind
write a song that does not rhyme
get stoned and sail the sea

would you pray to god or not
get real drunk and cuss alot
bitch about what you ain't got
or get you something new
would you kiss the one you love
down below and up above
could you bear the burden of
nothing left to prove

if you had one last day to live
and your soul was free from shame
would you let your real light shine

does the light look different now
does it break without a sound
does it make you laugh out loud
like when you were a child
as you go kicking through the dew
think of all that you've been through
hey don't you realize it too
we've been wasting so much time

 

Honey and Salt

there are sacred sanctuaries
warm and full of light
that we should be walking through
day, night
only denied by the cross I bear
there are silos full of holographs
rendered from the loss
a paper garden in my window sill
rain, frost
who is hiding behind the sun

oh I could use a place to rest
i could use a change of heart
willingly I acquiesce
pining for the part

the constant pull of gravity
through the turn was just too much
I believe I lost my sanity
grace, touch
is it a sweeter life by the trials we share

oh if I could lose myself long enough
to read this book i might have a chance
to lose the fool or someone else
it's no surprise I never learned to dance
very well, use me now
I could be your friend

there's a phantom in my tragedy
and this is not your fault
they drag me through the giving fields
honey, salt
is it a sweeter life by the trials we share

 

All In Good Time

the sky will stop falling
and the sun will finally show
the baby will stop balling
and I'll get back my soul
the war will be over
and the new day will come in blind
all in good time

I will take your hand
no pretending no protest
shake there in the passing
of your strange and faithful kiss
when the revelation finds me
out cold from freedom's bind
all in good time

this all will prove out
wait for the sound
it's taking me over the line
try to stop a train
this game is making me tired
cold water on my face
I think this place is on fire
it's a fine line marie
between dreaming and dying
I sit here in the corner of my sad sad little room
I see your ghost, I hear you hum your little tune
do you believe in visions Marie
oh I believe in mine
all in good time

the crowd will fall out
in a big surprise applause
we will take our bows
and bruises for the cause
we'll never let a moment pass
or a sunny day go by
all in good time

 

Rain

I have paid the piper
and i have done my time
the little voice inside my head
grows unspeakably unkind
like a diamond on a grinder
like a hammer on a pearl
like a big chain around my brain again
fast and tied to the tilt a whirl

oh how I long for vengeance
in this song of tragedy
enchanted days of witness
to the virgin harmony
ever since september
my heart has been bone dry
and the bastards they should have killed me
when they made my angel cry

the watermark is waiting
I will never be the same
I'll be rain
falling all around you again
god forgive me for my sin
but I won't be satisfied
until the sun comes shining through

there's a snake down in the manger
there's a rat in the baby's bed
I'll be the one from now on
to put dreams in their head
through thick mud and bad blood
we'll crawl through eden's gate
trying to recapture
what they took from us that day

 

Time

isn't it just like me
to make a joke out of tragedy
all I needed was some time
I'm not living in the past
I thought I'd try
to make you laugh
that's one thing i can do
and do it well
well I wish I could
I was just passing
through your neighborhood
but you don't seem too amused
I just thought I'd stop and say
I was thinking about you today
and you were right
I see you in the morning sun
in the flight of the blue heron
I see you in the evening sky
and I see you in my dream
this song was easy to write
it just came to me last night
it only took me fifteen years
now isn't it just like me
to make a joke out of tragedy
all I needed was some
time

 

The Leaving

she slipped out from under neath his arm
crawled across the floor
pulled down the shade and
blew out the candle
shut the door
to the other room
the floor was cold in the hall
and the light in the north room fell soft
and without direction
so it was really hard to tell
wether It was dusk or
wether It was dawn
she said to herself
I used to wake up in the morning and the day was mine then
I used to wake up in the morning and the day was ours
now I wake up in the morning and the day belongs to you
now I'm not a phone booth at a truckstop on the turnpike
and I don't know how I feel
i cannot see your face
and I do not know what's real
nothing was really said after that
no goodbyes
she grabbed up a few things she needed
her heart her soul and the keys to the car and she left
it was a grey day
she drove a while until she came to a place
where she could stay and feel safe
she took a room at a motel and
put away her things and sat quietly on the bed
it was three o'clock in the afternoon and
she sang a sad song in her head
she took off all of her clothes and tried to fall asleep
tossing and turning she fell into a dream
once again she was driving down the highway
listening to the radio
there were people standing and waving
along the side of the road
there was no place in particular
she felt she had to go
then the straight lines turned to circles
and then into a kaleidescope
then in a half sleep she controlled the dream
and she thought to herself
it's hard to see the future
looking backwards through
a telescope

 

You Belong To Me

forever's calling
the secret's safe with me now
lying on our backs it feels
like we could slip right through the sky
and waltz round the old dance hall
where the questions fall so far away
in our twist of fate i never wonder why

think about our place in the competition
did we really have that far to fall

sweet reminders of our
times above the wishing well
when the penny fell
and we turned around to find
sweet afterglow
of our times below a shooting star
no matter where you are
you belong to me

looks like diamonds on black velvet now
now you come to me in every little turn I take
I remember well the pirouette
and i cannot forget you let me kiss you then
that's when i first believed

think about our place in the competition
does it really matter now at all

sweet reminders of
our times above the wishing well
when the penny fell
and we turned around to find
sweet afterglow of
our times below a shooting star
no matter where you are
you belong to me
sweet reminders of our times above
the water line
now you're mine and
forever's calling

 

Shout From The Street

we're going to gather in a wheel
we're going to live inside the drum
we're going to find our sense of place
in the kingdom of the sun
we'll be stronger than soldiers
when we blast the barricade
we'll be knee deep in roses
when we push the big parade
the wind is going to blow
our hearts are going to pound
and the shout from the street
is going to turn this world around

little maggie's going to be there
in her pearls and purple shoes
brother john right beside her
in his big black boots
we're going to walk on the water
we're going to sail across the sea
hey look here mama they look just like you and me
the wind is going to blow
our hearts are going to pound
and the shout from the street
is going to turn this world around

yeah for those who came before us
and for those who'll be coming around again
the river cuts right through to show us heaven
and where we begin
washed in the blood
washed in the blood

we're going to dance through these days
to a dusty old song
we're going to live in the vein
right where we belong
from the cradle to the crossing
underneath the copper moon
everything will be revealed
in a little silver spoon
the wind is going to blow
our hearts are going to pound
and the shout from the street
is going to turn this world around

 

Persephone

she descends down from the ceiling
with magnolias in her hair
she lights every single candle
in a crystal chandelier
with no more than a whisper
she illuminates the room
and I am bound here by her poison
like a drunk in her saloon

as the apparition
she frightens me to death
as flesh and blood and woman
she takes my every breath
as persephone she's perfect
god have mercy on my soul
I am hollow i am helpless
and I've lost all my control

who am I
that the world would miss
hiding in her sweetest kiss
dying in her careless crush
the taste of salt on her summer blush
I can smell vanilla rain
falling soft on her fields again
write my name
in waters still
and let me
fade away

I can feel her eyes upon me
but there's nothing I can do
I am paralyzed in the silence of
her beautiful remove

and sometimes I get the feeling
when I'm knocking at the door
that with the devil I am dealing
but I keep coming back for more

 

Home

I feel the lights of town fade
I traded out the retrograde
I don't have much
but for what I've saved
now i'm headed home

wind is whistling through the wing
no radio so I sing
yesterday feels like a dream
now I'm headed home

rolling through
the dark of night
no one in sight
this time I am flying
wheels above the ground
the only sound is me
living now
not dying

I love a girl who brings good news
the color of her eyes are changing blues
one true kiss I can't refuse
now I'm on my way

sending out my signal flare
god, thank you for my answered prayer
keep her safe until I get there
now I'm headed home

 

 

All lyrics and music written by Jeff Black
© Jeff Black | Lotos Nile Music BMI
except "Rain" Published by
Jeff Black Music BMI/Coburn Music BMI
"Gold Heart Locket" and "Same Old River"
Published by Warner/Tamerlane BMI
All Rights Reserved