'Sometimes Jesse James'
"Sometimes Jesse James" on the Silent City Records label is an EP that stands alone. In a field where country artists are sometimes a bit too classic country and Americana artists are a tad too sad singer-songwriter, this disc proves you can appeal to a specific group of listeners and still draw in just about everyone and anyone else who appreciates music and true musicianship.
It’s Casper’s eighth recording.
On it, Casper (lead vocals and guitar) is backed by his band Cowboy Angst which features Carl Byron (electric and acoustic piano, accordion, and Hammond B3 organ), Herb Deitelbaum (bass), Jay Nowac (drums), and John Groover McDuffie (pedal steel, lap steel, and electric and classical guitar). Co-producer Ira Ingber also adds additional guitar, keys, percussion, dulcimer, bass, cittern, and backing vocals.
In an age of on-demand digital music, Casper chose “to get [his] music out there, fast.” Hence, this sincere, entertaining six-track CD. His signature sound said by some to be his own version of Americana is actually a melange of music genres including Americana, Blues, Cajun, Country, R&B, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Tex Mex.
Track by track
The EP opens with “Down” which gets things off to a good start.
Here Casper employs a blend of Country and Bo Diddley-like chords in a song that is vaguely reminiscent of Tom Petty or The Traveling Wilburys. The lyrics focus on man’s mentality being both a blessing and a hindrance. “The Best Day Of Our Lives” follows. Here they slow things down a bit with the pre-requisite ballad. While it is melancholic, it is not overpowering. It’s a mood piece.
“My Wrecking Ball” is a nice surprise as they pick things up again. This is the only cover on an otherwise original audio offering. It’s a unique adaptation of a song by Ryan Adams. “They Call It Love” is influenced by bluesy, old-school Little Feat. Those familiar with Casper’s work confirm it’s a departure. This critic prefers to see it as yet another example of his fluid signature sound. It takes listeners in a new direction but remains solid and true to form.
“Born To Lose Blues” is a song that he wrote bit by bit over a period of years. The end result is a well-forged song that works well here. The EP endnote, “Mi Sueno, Mi Dolor” is oddly an instrumental. Co-written with McDuffie, it's yet another departure, a calm, “minor key Mexican/blues” number, on which careful musicianship is the key.
Album end note
With a drop date of February 9, 2018, the disc is a breath of fresh air in the Americana market with a variety of musical influences and elements to entertain one and all. For the record, Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst’s new release "Sometimes Jesse James" is a great cure for the “Born To Lose Blues.”