2003-01 Citizens’ Voice

Concert Reviews

Citizen’s Voice, January 2003 (http://www.plowsharesmusic.org/concert.html)

PHOENIXVILLE, PA – Garland Jeffreys has never gotten the credit he deserves. Not at home anyway.

One of America’s true musical poet laureates, Garland Jeffreys, performed an intimate acoustic only show at one of the Philadelphia area’s best kept secrets (so far), the Plowshare’s Coffee House in Phoenixville on Saturday evening. Jeffreys played with long time fellow musician Alan Freedman recalling some of his best known material that has literally made Jeffreys an icon overseas yet commercially underappreciated in the U.S.

While Jeffrey’s has recorded albums for Epic, A&M and Atlantic records, it has been across the Atlantic where he has enjoyed much deserved success. At a given period, Jeffreys had number one songs in Austria, Hungary, Germany, Italy and France, mostly spurred by the internationally flavored Matador from his album American Boy & Girl.

Jeffreys burst onto the American music scene with incredible critical success with his album Ghost Writer, full of multi-cultural, non-denominational, haunting rock & roll. The critics loved him and American radio & the public bought his records more slowly yet devotedly.

On Jeffrey’s records like Ghost Writer, One Eyed Jack and Escape Artist, you’ll find some of pop music’s most revered players like the Brecker Brothers, percussionist Steven Gadd, members of Graham Parker’s Rumor as well as Brinsley Schwartz, James Taylor and Phoebe Snow.

At Plowshares, Jeffreys played one of those shows you wish that you could have recorded. His voice sounds as strong as ever, his guitar playing magnificent and his sense for delivery is impeccable. Garland Jeffreys delivers full scale whether it’s in a cozy club or with a full band playing with Bruce Springsteen, as he recently did!

And as likely as he is to speak to you about the Springsteen gigs, so too will he gladly pull out his family photos and talk with you about his wife and child.

Jeffrey’s voice sounded superb at Plowshares as he delved back to Ghost Writer for I May Not Be Your Kind, the title track Ghost Writer, Rough & Ready and New York Skyline. All sounded fresh, tuneful and remarkably true to origin.

Long time friend and accomplished guitarist Alan Freedman provided near flawless accompaniment as the two meshed seamlessly for the ninety minute performance. Freedman coaxed a band’s worth of sounds from his guitars and Jeffreys smiled at him approvingly on many occasions.

Jeffreys spoke modestly about his recent gigs with the Boss in Asbury Park in December. The two have remained friends over the years and Bruce thought Garland a perfect fit for his bill in Jersey. Again, critics raved as Jeffrey’s version of New York Skyline took on even more impetus than ever since 9/11.

Garland Jeffreys is truly an American original artist that must be experienced live to be appreciated. Jeffreys is unique, he is true to his art form and he is a musical treasure.

The ‘Ghost Writer’ is still around and doing well and I for one am glad for that. In these days of pre-packaged, Michael Eisner-invented pop creations, Jeffreys stands as a freshly original, intelligent artist of incredible talent who I hope continues to create his art in his own inimitable way for a long, long time to come. – AL CHOMAN, Citizens’ Voice Music Critic

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