San Francisco based Tiny Television released their fine debut, Mission Statement, back in 2009. A dusty Dobro driven slice of classic Americana its weathered well and still gets played in the Blabber’n’Smoke habitat. Four years down the line and one successful Kickstarter campaign later Just This Side of Everything crawls into the light of day and after rubbing its eyes and adjusting to the light goes on to prove itself a worthy successor to its elder sibling building on the more melodic moments from Mission Statement such as Carolina and the southern country funk of C.R.E.A.M. which was that album’s highlight.
Retaining the core of the band that recorded Mission Statement (Drummer Dan Luehring and guitarist Dave Zirbel ( on guitars, banjo, Dobro, wurlitzer, piano and pedal steel with the bass baton is taken up for the most part by Mike Anderson) mainman Jeremy D’Antonio provides all of the songs and delivers them with a fine relaxed drawl that inhabits a careworn space much as the early Kris Kristofferson did.
Kicking off with a brief variation on That’s Alright with a rockabilly skip and some excellent Dobro work the song then dips into Swing Low Sweet Chariot before winding up. An odd opening given that D’Antonio has a fine handle on his song writing as evidenced by the following Fire In Your Heart. This is a great song with the band channeling Springsteen’s pop touch, it’s not a million miles away from the boss’s Dancing In The Dark period, hook laden and radio friendly with the band and in particular the keyboards providing a triumphant swell. Jungle drums introduce Virginia before a Duane Eddy cowboy guitar rumble propels the song into Western territory with a widescreen vista as D’Antonio sings of his lost love while Jess Denicola on backing vocals summons up a zephyr blowing his memories away. With a short, knife sharp solo from Zirbel this is rousing stuff. The banjo driven Brother with its barroom piano moves the band into country mode while Devil delves into older and more primeval roots as Dobro and banjo snake their way through swampy atmospherics from the rhythm section. D’Antonio clings to the song like a drowning man singing from the well of despair, spooky indeed.
Following this one up is a tall order and the Gospel soul tinged The Way It Goes, although fine in itself sounds somewhat forced and out of place here and introduces a lull in the album with Jackson and Hear The Sound which follow failing to capture the spirit of the earlier songs. However they muster up a tremendous double whammy to close the album. Mississippi is a fine band workout with guitar and pedal steel circling like vultures around a cold tale of the deep south and recalls the Stones in their best Southern drapery. The closing Blood & Wine is a majestic ballad with D’Antonio duetting with Jess Denicola And Laura Dean while piano and strings buttress them recalling the glory days of Gram and Emmylou. Despite the occasional lull Just this Side of Everything is a fine listen and stakes Jeremy D’Antonio and Tiny Television’s claim to be one of the better prospects over the next year or two. At the end of Blood & Wine D’Antonio is heard asking “how’s that.” The answer must be “fine indeed.”