Album review: Jackie Greene is back with ‘Back to Birth’
After a five-year hiatus from recording solo records, Jackie Greene has returned to form with his new album, “Back To Birth.”
A native of Cameron Park who frequents the Crystal Bay Casino, Greene has been keeping busy over these past years with his Americana side-project Trigger Hippy, as well becoming a member of the Black Crowes and playing with an assortment of greats such as Bob Weir. Last month, Greene announced he was leaving Trigger Hippy in order to focus on the new solo album.
His versatile musicianship serves him well in these ensembles and has kept his solo material from ever sounding one-dimensional. Thankfully, he finally decided to focus on serving his personal muse to the world by returning to the studio to record a follow-up to 2010’s “ ‘Till The Light Comes”
The album’s title, “Back To Birth,” is a perfect statement of what Greene has accomplished with his latest release. He is doing what he has always done, laying down finely tuned folk-rock songs sprinkled with a songwriter’s sentimentality. The bright opener “Silver Lining” hits on those core characteristics and is a great introduction to the album. The song floats on a warm melody about finding the positive nuances in life. It has a comforting sway that matches Greene’s uplifting realization that “Everyday I’m finding/ That silver lining is me.”
There is a particular sheen that comes in listening to the album that makes it sound more polished than his past records. It may be intentional by Greene or just the fact the album is his first in five years and has that brand-new-car feel. “Now I Can See For Miles” has a poppy shine to it that glistens with guitars and harmonies, and “The King Is Dead” has one of Greene’s catchiest chorus’ he has written.
“Trust Somebody” has a very modern-classic tone to it that Greene knocks out of the park with his emotional delivery. It is a feel-good blend of his heartfelt songwriting and sweeping licks from piano, guitar and a string section, sounding like an early-1970s Elton John. Every new model of car is a little more sleek than its predecessor, and the best songs on “Back To Birth” fit that description.
One song that suffers from a little too much production is the dramatic “Hallelujah.” The hymnal first part of the song sounds too generic to add any depth to his lyrics and when Greene busts into the Baptist-church outro, full of choral shouts and hand-claps, the song loses whatever gravitas it had. Doing something outside your wheelhouse is commendable, but Greene is no Baptist minister.
“Back To Birth” is a welcomed addition to Greene’s repertoire and hopefully fans won’t have to wait another five years for his next.
Related story: Q&A with Jackie GreeneLINKJackie Greene “Back to Birth”Release: Aug. 28, 2015
Notable Tracks: “Silver Lining,” “Trust Somebody.”
ABOUT Garrett Bethmann
Garrett Bethmann is a graduate of University of Mary Washington with a degree in English. An eight-year resident of Lake Tahoe, he now lives in Denver, Colorado.