Release Date: Feb 10, 2015
Record label: Rounder
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Retro-Rock
His second album was always going to be the real test for JD McPherson. The Oklahoma singer was tagged as a rock ’n’ roll revivalist with his firecracker debut Signs & Signifiers, but revivalism can be a confining niche, for all its charms. McPherson shows on the follow-up that he is not about to be confined. Let the Good Times Roll is rooted in some of the same early rock ’n’ roll and R&B sounds as its predecessor (which also drew obliquely on Wu-Tang Clan, McPherson has said), but these 11 songs are more expansive, and also more subtly daring.
JD McPherson’s new album is a foot-stomping, ass-shaking thing of beauty. If your idea of Valentine’s Day romance is being cozy with a loved one in front of a fire, don’t put on this album. Its songs will make you want to go out and find a dance floor to chase away these winter doldrums. Let the Good Times Roll is a follow-up to McPherson’s debut album from 2010, Signs and Signifiers, whose title references elitist literary theory but whose sounds hearken back to 1950s rockabilly.
From the opening “Summertime Blues”-styled guitar and snare stutter of the title track to the throaty Little Richard surge of the final “Everyone’s Talking ‘Bout The All American,” there is no doubt where JD McPherson’s heart and influences lie. His late ’50s/early ’60s aesthetic incorporates everything from Johnny Burnette pumped rockabilly to sweet Buddy Holly wired ballads with a substantial dose of Chuck Berry attitude and offhand, witty lyrical insight. But to pigeonhole McPherson as some well-intentioned-but-why-bother? retro minded relic is missing the point.
Trumpeted by the flagship single "North Side Gal," JD McPherson burst onto the roots music scene in 2010 with his debut album, Signs & Signifiers. Blessed with an angelically resonant voice and a vintage analog production sound (the latter courtesy of bassist/collaborator/studio guru Jimmy Sutton), McPherson had boiled his take on rock & roll down to the essentials. Using those timeless elements, combined with his literate, art school-informed songwriting aesthetic (he carries an M.F.A.
JD McPherson Let the Good Times Roll (Rounder) JD McPherson's 2012 debut, Signs & Signifiers, hit like a rogue H-bomb: 12 well-crafted originals in a sonic environment eerily reminiscent of a vintage Specialty or Chess 45, clearly inspired in his Fifties punk by Austin's late Nick Curran. Sophomore effort Let the Good Times Roll continues similarly without sinking into more of the same. Moody pieces such as "Bridgebuilder" demonstrate new tricks, like throbbing six-string bass stabs, single-note piano triplets, fuzz explosions, and mass strings building into dynamic bursts reminiscent of a Jack Nitzsche or Lee Hazlewood production.