“JT NERO, wandering mystic, stumbling misfit, moping misanthrope, movable feaster, crooner, poet!” Or so it says on his website. He’s also the alter ego of Jeremy Thomas Lindsay, singer with JT and the Clouds who released one of the better Americana albums of 2010 with “Caledonia.” On this ostensibly solo album he’s accompanied by several of the Clouds with some members of Canadian band Po’ Girl also in attendance. Recorded in only three days in a cabin in Wisconsin the album is a gentle affair with laid back instrumentation and full attention given to Lindsay’s soulful voice and the utterly amazing harmonisings of Allison Russell and Michelle McGrath. The three of them sing wonderfully together elevating this album into the top ten of this years releases. In addition Lindsay’s writing is well up to the task of providing a fine set of songs for them to sing with several of them outstanding. Roll Tide is perhaps the standout, the sound of crickets introduce a strummed guitar and Lindsay’s sweet voice before banjo and the heavenly harmonies enter while a gentle bass and organ support the fragile edifice. A beautiful song. Roll Tide references Tupelo Honey and elsewhere Elton John’s Tiny Dancer gets a name check and its perhaps no coincidence that much of this album reminds one of the singer songwriters of Laurel Canyon back in the seventies and the whole Troubadour scene they created. Singers and writers who drew inspiration from the countryside but who were also infused by the melodic influence of The Beatles the likes of Neil Young, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and Lowell George can all be heard in the grooves of this album. Thus the churning North Star, the Lennonesque Grey Ghost, the Nilsson like lyrics to Double Helix (Rainbow) and the New Orleans jive of Gallup, NM could all have sat well on a Warner Brothers album of the period. The blue eyed soul of Morrison of this period is well captured and here Lindsay’s day job with the Clouds stands him in good stead with their modern day take on soul.
So although recorded in a cabin this is not a back to the roots album unless the roots are that great blossoming of talent in LA back in the days. And despite most of the above one does not have to be an aficionado of LA Canyon music to enjoy what is an almost perfectly crafted album.
Lindsay along with Allison Russell and Po’ Girl drummer Mikey “Lighting” August have a short set of dates in England lined up in late November and December. Going by this album these look to be must attend!