For those of you who wear out your Pokey LaFarge records on a regular basis and regard Wayne “The Train” Hancock as a musical God, another name worth checking out is the old-time throwback singer and songwriter with a hobo’s hat and a belly full of songs named Jack Klatt.
They say to write it you first have to live it, and that is what Jack Klatt did when he dropped out of college in 2006 and hit the road with his backpack and a guitar, criss crossing the United States and even trekking over to Europe for a while before landing in Minnesota where he started to take the music he’d used to busk on street corners and sidewalks all around the world more seriously.
Many try to capture that road-worn wisdom and weariness found in the warbling voices of those old records from troubadours like Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie, but few can swing it with the ghostly accuracy of Jack Klatt. Combine that with a natural kinship with America’s formative songwriters and a keen ability to articulate timeless narratives in an old-time manner, and Jack Klatt is the musical solution for listeners with old souls. Part primitive country, part early jazz and bluesy rag, Klatt has the tempo of the train tracks stamped on his music, and booze soaking through his classically poetic style.
Possibly most enchanting is the alacrity with which Klatt can work his fingers on a parlor guitar, and fill the air with revolving melodies, punctuated with slide tones as he shows off what many years of meditation with a man and his instrument can make possible. Regard his singing and songwriting highly, but his guitar playing is what puts Jack Klatt on the musical map.
His brand new sophomore release called Shadows in the Sunset finds Jack Klatt coming and going, but mostly going. Subtitled as “On The Art of Saying Goodbye,” it contains songs sewed on the move with healing found on the road and heartbreak left behind. The album was recorded in a 100-year-old church called the Ark in the tiny town of Viroqua, Wisconsin in the dead of winter, all live with a crack band and vintage gear, giving Shadows in the Sunset the authentic acoustics for the sentiments expressed in Klatt’s original throwback compositions.
This isn’t about setting forth a new paradigm in music, this is about authentically interpreting ageless music with a new enthusiasm to make sure the old ways of making melodies never wane. Klatt may not be the next hot name in country music, but he will be the minstrel to dazzle intimate crowds looking for a portal back to a simpler, and more enriching time in American music.
1 1/2 Guns Up (7/10)
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Appearing on Shadows in the Sunset are:
- Patrick Harison – Lap steel and accordion
- Josh Granowski – Upright bass
- Chris Hepola – Percussion
- Nikki Grossman – Fiddle