Jackie Greene – American Myth (2006)
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Jackie Greene - American Myth

I don’t know what it is that drives me to studiously avoid heavily promoted titles for months, then turn around and take chances on stuff I know nothing about, like Jackie Greene’s American Myth.

Oh, wait. Yes I do. Sometimes stuff I know nothing about is very, very good.

Case in point, American Myth. I don’t know what they’re putting in the water over at Verve Forecast, but between Rhett Miller, Teddy Thompson, and now Jackie Greene, they’re having one hell of a year. Now, obviously, if you don’t like your music to sound like — as my pal Rodger puts it — “a guy, a guitar, and his feelings,” then you may not agree with me on this. But I’ll do what I can to convince you anyway.

I love this record.

Greene has evoked Dylan comparisons in the past, due to the sparse, six-string troubadour aesthetic of his previous recordings, and I imagine that the folks who drew those lines in the past will be a little dismayed by Myth; it’s got a bigger, slicker sound than Greene’s had before. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, because he’s got a gift for smart arrangements, and they serve the material well. A song like “So Hard to Find My Way” (download) might hit you with an organ, a banjo, a dobro, and a horn section all at once, but as it turns out, that’s exactly what it ought to do — and as songs like “When You’re Walking Away” (download) make perfectly, beautifully clear, he knows when to dial it back.

American Myth is a stunningly well-made album of 21st-century roots rock, preposterously deep with fine songs, delivered with brains, heart, and style. What else can I say, besides go buy it now?