These Old Nites
by Karla Ash
Junior Jackson is a hypnotist.
On These Old Nites, he takes you to his world—a pulp-fiction setting where the gin always flows and cigarette smoke colors the air. These brooding mid-tempo numbers string together a handful of vintage American styles, namely blues, country, and jazz. Call it “roots rock” for the lack of a better description, but there’s not much “rock” here. Instead, Jackson puts you in a certain mood.
Fans of Tom Waits will have much to dig here, especially Jackson’s gravelly voice. At times he recalls The The’s Matt Johnson in his later years; however, that’s probably due to shared influences. Johnson uses the classic guitar, bass, and drums set up but the arrangements sound modern and quirks abound. “My Down Home Girl” restructures the blues to give it a spellbinding, danceable groove; the bass oddly resembles O.M.D.’s “Tesla Girls” while the slide guitars are pure country. On “The Guitar Man,” Johnson is possessed by Lou Reed, narrating the lyrics in that trademark half-spoken, half-sung way.