From cover art to content, I give Jon Patrick Walker’s new 6 song EP “You and I” 5 out of 5 “YAYS!”.
I’d had an unusually rough week, so when I was presented with Jon Patrick Walker’s new 6 song EP “You and I,” I didn’t even bother to read the blurb that came with it, I just “dropped the needle.” THANK YOU! I SO NEEDED TO HEAR THIS AT THAT MOMENT! Suddenly transported to 1970, I felt like I was standing on the corner of Park Avenue and 17th street, deciding whether to head over to the Factory, or see who was hanging out at Max’s. I had to drag myself out of my reverie to get my first impressions down on paper.
In my opinion, there is a very special sub-genre within “Folk Rock,” one that is ruled by the likes of Guthrie, Bread, Bad Finger, Nilsson, Lightfoot, Coburn, Reed, Croche, The Mama’s and the Papa’s, Peter Paul and Mary, Stevens, Bolan, Bowie, and The Velvet Underground. Very few 21st Century artist/composers have even come close to touching what those artists managed to indelibly carve into the ether. The only example that comes to mind is a single song “There She Goes,” by British artist, The La’s.
JPW’s “You and I” EP is stunningly authentic, and evokes masterfully entwined elements of all the aforementioned artists. Only a singer/composer who is part of that same consciousness is capable of creating such an original addition to its legacy of excellence.
Then, after reading JPW’s blurb, I was even more impressed. It’s not just about his singing and writing, JPW has his priorities straight— if you’re gonna make this kind of record, you surround yourself with a brilliant producing, mixing and mastering team like Josh Kaufman, Josh Ritter, Craig Finn, Bob Weir (The Grateful Dead), Patrick Dillett (They Might Be Giants) and the Legendary Greg Calbi, and make it sound analog.
And to top it off— JPW has a background in film, television and Broadway theatre, and is currently killing-it playing King George on the national tour of Hamilton! Very seldom has an artist successfully crossed the bridge between “true theatre” and “true rock.” It’s a hard jump, one that needs to be made more often, and hopefully JPW is breaking that ground so that others might follow. The last few decades of Broadway music, and Broadway singing has been so specialized, and so different from that of rock, it takes an artist with an incredible amount of
versatility with a focus on legitimacy to pull off being “the real” deal in either genre— JPW does it seamlessly in both.
The execution of every track flawlessly renders each story being told—from JPW’s rich, spontaneous-sounding vocals, to the sparse crisp arrangements, to the musicians and their performances. And speaking of the musicians— love them, the rhythm and lead guitar work is truly great— and supported by one-bad-ass rhythm section.
The essence of the EP’s first track “Your Open Hand,” a duet— swept me away like The Sandpiper’s “Come Saturday Morning”— Obviously, a different type of piece, but one that shares the same soul. Writing and recording a love song with such haunting delicacy is no easy feat, and JPW has found his own way to do it. JPW’s wife, actress Hope Davis’s vocal performance is as compellingly honest as Holly Golightly’s rendition of Moon River. Yeah, I admit it— I got goose bumps. The video is perfect— as intimate as the song itself.
“I won’t sit around and cry.”— It’s uplifting! An anthem for the dumped but unfazed! JPW’s lyrics throughout this EP are as consistently thought-provoking and in-the-moment as one of my favorite lyricists—Cheryl Crow. Spoiler alert: if you love pedal steel… “You and I.” The instrumentation, lyric, vocal, jazz edge, and production treatment render a deliciously transcendental soundscape reminiscent of the late 60’s. “The Guilty Party.” JPW’s use of long phrases proves he knows his sh*t in this bona-fide “Warhol-dirge-rocker” as it’s story irreverently celebrates bad behavior. “Jack O Bells.” Another great song, completely consistent with the sound that is “JPW,” chugs along cheerfully telling what seems to be the story of a man who’s not trapped by the illusions of earth life. “I Can’t Not Do The Robot (When I’m Dancing With You,)” the final track, is an off-the-rails twisted dance-rocker— destined to be a classic!