2011-06-16 Cape Cod Online

Garland Jeffreys Returns

by Ken Capobianco (Cape Cod Online)

Longtime New York rocker Garland Jeffreys has released his first CD, The King of In Between,” (Luna Park) in 13 years and it’s the kind of gritty, powerful disc longtime fans have been waiting for him to make. The singer/songwriter, whose “Ghost Writer” is one of the seminal 70’s records, has come up with a poetic and ruminative set of songs about aging, identity and yes, rock ‘n’ roll. Jeffreys, part African American and part Puerto Rican, uses the title  a definition of his cultural identity and existential state of being. It resonates, though, on a universal level and can refer to the ambiguity of all life. Somehow someway, we all live somewhere in the place between truth and lies, between right and wrong and caught between the shadows and the light. For Jeffreys, it obviously was culturally explicit, but there’s no doubt he’s recognizing the hazy vagueness of all our lives.

The songs tackle street-life head on and have a specific New York feel. This is one of the defining New York records of the recent past. If you know New York—the smells, the tastes, the energies, the rhythms—you will truly understand this disc. If you don’t, though, you still will appreciate the deft lyricism and storytelling that is at the foundation of virtually every song. Jeffreys, now 67, has a rough-around-the edges voice these days and a knowing sense of phrasing—this is a guy who has seen things. The music, featuring an all-star cast of players including drummer Steve Jordan and guitarists Larry Campbell and (ex Bostonian) Duke Levine, moves from streetwise rock to jagged reggae to ripping blues (the terrific “’Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me”) and it’s the perfect complement to Jeffreys’ ode to this carnival we call life. This is a record that feels lived in and while the market is being inundated with so much rote, cynical music, Jeffreys reminds us that not only can rock music make you feel, but it can make you bleed. Great stuff. Don’t miss it.

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