Georgie Jessup. Philosopher Dogs

Georgie Jessup runs what is reportedly the best little house concert space in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, Edith May’s Paradise. In addition she works in special education with children with autism and special needs. She’s an activist for Native American causes and has been a musician since the 1970s releasing five albums prior to Philosopher Dogs. A transgendered country singer Jessup also campaigns for the transgendered community and featured in the award-winning documentary Woman In A Man’s Suit.

Philosopher Dogs is an old fashioned album in many respects. There’s some fine country rock, a dash of soul and some soul searching ballads while a version of Ring Of Fire is delivered with a veneer so polished it might have come from an eighties stadium band. Not a bad thing in this case as there’s no eighties production values, just a tremendous burst of energy and some scorching guitar work that could have come from the fingers of Warner E Hodges.

With two songs about Geronimo included Jessup reminds the listener of Michael Martin Murphy (author of Geronimo’s Cadillac and the original Cosmic Cowboy). Geronimo’s Bones is a dramatic and multi layered ballad with soaring organ and spiralling guitar while Geronimo (written by Dirk Hamilton) is a plaintive mandolin speckled tribute to the Apache leader. However, Jessup’s interest in Native American culture is best realised on the highlight of the album, Red Cloud’s Room. A loose-limbed rhythm section beds in, pedal steel flits gracefully overhead and Jessup with Christina Van Norman intones with an appropriate sense of mysticism. Elsewhere Jessup seems to be indebted to Brian Wilson on the confessional Reluctant Phoenix and she offers a potted biography on the tribal drum led title track which again harks back to FM radio anthems although there weren’t too many songs in the top twenty back then about the singer’s pet dogs.

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