Album Review: Head In The Clouds by Jay Pollmann

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(Photo courtesy of Jay Pollman’s Instagram)

There’s something to say about musicians whose roots are imbedded in small towns, especially Canadian artists, who use that to their lyrical capabilities. Modest, and relatable, you find yourself stuck between wanting to get out and wanting to appreciate every small thing and place your tiny little community has to offer. Just knowing that someone was able to make art in such a mundane space feels empowering and almost brag worthy. Jay Pollmann is no exception.

With a résumé as appealing as any admirable Canadian artist, Pollmann started out in a band. A great band. A band that toured North America and had four studio albums. For 10 years, GRUVE, fronted by Pollmann as lead vocalist and guitarist, played countless festivals, house shows, bars and pig roasts, across southern, Ontario. But like all great things, GRUVE, came to an end.

Jay Pollmann wasn’t done writing music though. In 2013, he took his own bull by the horns, a saying I feel is remarkably fitting for his foot stompin’ rootsy blues, and started his solo career. A move that would not only land him an opportunity to share a stage with Canadian singer/songwriter Joel Plaskett, but would produce his first studio album as Jay Pollmann, an EP titled, “Head In The Clouds”.

Kicking off the 7 track album is Steerin’ With My Knees, a song that I related to Robert Frost’s, The Road Not Taken, without the regret. Lots of foot stompin’ to get you in the mood Pollman clearly wants you to be in while listening to this album, he talks about the high road as if it were the only road. The title track, Head In the Clouds, is riddled with so many different sounds and vocals that intertwine to make a song tethering on the edge of a drink or dance move. Almost as if on cue, with the magic hand of a man that plays his instruments so well, including acoustic accompanied by brass slide, you will find yourself ready to stomp along to a sound so authentic you can’t compare it to any other.

There is a reverberation of nostalgia to the album, though. Loose Lips Sink Ships, one of my favourite tracks, felt so familiar, I had to add up the metaphors to find the equation: Pollman is so vocally in place, so lyrically set, that the familiarity of some of these songs isn’t so much that I’ve heard them before, but they are something I’ve wanted to hear. Every song on this album might just leave you with a similar feeling. A feeling like this is where you should be. (Isn’t that how roots work? I think it’s no coincidence.)

Before the curtain closes, you will get a taste of what it really feels like living in a small town, especially in good ol’ Onatrio, he will point out, that has you rooted to it’s old haunts. Watering Hole is a reminder that some things just end, without  warning, but there’s always somewhere to go, even if you’re not sure where, something I took away from the song without it having to be mentioned. I think Jay Pollmann is headed in the right direction either way.

Head In The Clouds will be released on January 13, with a release party at The Baltimore House in Hamilton, Ontario, at 9pm. It’s sure to be a stompin’ time.

For more information, check out Jay’s website, http://www.jaypollmann.com/.

For Fans of: Nathaniel Rateliff, Joel Plaskett, Jonathan Tyler.

 

Wrapping Up April

Here’s what I’ve been listening to for the month of April.  Again, don’t expect it to be cohesive.  I jump around between artists and genres all the time, based on what I’m feeling.  This month I got nostalgic; there’s a good section of more classic rock tunes.  As always there are some new releases too!

Hopefully you’ll find something that’s new or interesting to you too!

 

Sidenote:  I’m currently trying out Tidal as a different method of streaming as well.  I’ve got the one month trial going on right now, so I hope to be able to give you some insight into ‘Tidal vs. Spotify’ in terms of streaming services soon!

Fresh Music Video!

Dierks Bentley has released the third video in his four part series of music video yesterday, and it’s got a nice dramatic twist.  If you haven’t seen the previous two, make sure you check them out so you’re caught up on the plot line.

I’m super into how he’s marketing his new album Black with these interconnected videos by the way.  Especially with Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and Florence and the Machine releasing “The Odyssey”, the genre of music videos is becoming more in depth and involved, and really allowing the listener/viewer to be part of the story.  I’m all for this.

Check out the video for “Pick Up” below:

What My Parents Gave Me

When I was thirteen years old, both of my parents gave me something. Something that was theirs. Well, not exactly theirs, but something that they had both decided was a part of who they each were, and was worth passing down to me. Music.

Now, I was never deprived before becoming a teenager. In fact, my father is a musician, both a performer and a teacher, and my childhood was filled with the hum of his acoustic, his frustration and dedication, his unswerving need to constantly be writing, recording, and performing music. My mother (and his muse, in the beginning of his career) was his biggest supporter. She attended every set he played, singing along to his songs. She stayed up late, drinking wine, dancing. She loved his music. It was something they could agree on.

I always assumed they listened to the same albums growing up; anything rock and roll, raspy and assertive, several performers and instruments on one stage. Think Rush (a band my American father loved). Think The Rolling Stones. I never imagined that my parents could have different taste in anything, music especially.

In each home we lived in, my father always had his own room. Tim’s Room. The room my siblings and I weren’t allowed to go in unless invited to. As a young and imaginative child, I used to think if I touched the doorknob my hand would ignite. I was never worried about being burned, I just knew if he saw me rolling around trying to put the fire out, he would know I went in there. In that room was his life; his music, the music he worshipped, his guitars, his equipment. I lived for the nights we stayed up past our bedtime in that room. My mom, my brother and sister, my father, and I, dancing and singing along to music. Demanding my parents to play songs we barely knew the lyrics, nevermind the titles of. I used to pretend my dad’s guitar stand was a microphone. “Give me one reason to stay here, and I’ll turn right..” and usually before I could finish, my brother would grab his play guitar and shout, “ALRIGHT, STOP! HAMMERTIME!” and then the melt down would begin. Witching hour was over. We were shooed off to bed.

I always felt so left out. I was sad I didn’t get to stay up late and watch my dad make magic happen on his precious ES-335. I could hear it some nights, but I was just outside somewhere. Sometimes my father sat back and listened to others. There was a man somewhere, lone with a harmonica or a guy screaming about something that made my cheeks burn. I remember a song that felt like a lullabye about measuring a summer’s day, but I had to close my eyes and try not to hear it.  I lost my ticket. I was underage. This elite club didn’t accept crybabies. But really, I was spoiled. I wasn’t appreciating the moments as they were happening. It really wouldn’t be until I had hit youth, that I would fully grasp how lucky I was (still am) to have parents who included me as much as they did.

My mom was different. She loved to sing along. I remember the soundtracks of our road trips to South Carolina, Florida, Ontario, before we moved here. There was Tracy, and Phil, and too much Cyndi. There was Bowie and Fleetwood Mac. Simon and Garfunkel. And we sang and sang, all of us, until the rows of cedar and highway cliffs made us car sick and we had nowhere to put our nausea but to sleep. We woke up at our destination, cheering and anxious to get everything unpacked. But I remember dreaming a song, something about a map of Canada. A northern star. Touching souls. Mama, let me just ask you…

But the question could wait. I had heard that song before. Many times. It was in my blood like..

When I was 13, my parents each gave me something. My mother handed me three records and a cassette. Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies of The Canyon”, Carole King’s, “Tapestry”, and Carly Simon’s, “No Secrets”. The tape was a Joni Mitchell mix, complete with that song I always loved, “A Case of You.”

That same week, in the mail, I received a package from my father. Every Bob Dylan album ever recorded. With a simple message, “If this isn’t what you’re looking for, we will keep looking.”

When I was 13 years old, both my parents gave me something. It was something that they had given me years before, but that I would not fully appreciate until I was old enough, or ready to. I think maybe that was the gift. Not these albums, but the desire to always hear more. To listen to music and have a memory, someone to share it with. And who better than those who were pioneers in my experience of it?

It’s been over a decade now since I started to truly appreciate all of the music I grew up with, but I’ve also started to weed through some it and make my own little collection to pass on.

I’m expecting another package in the mail. From my father. He messaged me and said, “Expect some blues. I really think you’ll love these tapes”.

Well, Dad, if I remember correctly, I sure will.