Album Review – Jayke Orvis “It’s All Been Said”
When maestro mandolin player and songwriter Jayke Orvis left the .357 String Band, some heavy metal transplants were screeching that he took all of their grittiness, guts, and anger with him. Taking that theory to its natural conclusion, I guess a few were expecting his solo project to be some sort of bloodletting ritual that would summon the mandolin Mephistopheles to harvest our souls in a moment of death metal ecstasy. Unfortunately they will have to settle for great songwriting, and superb arrangement fleshed out by a mouth-watering assemblage of country superpickers.
If I got a bug to make an album and could put together a dream list of people to help me, James Hunnicutt (Wayne Hancock, The Revolvers, to many others to list) would be at the top for lead guitar. “Banjer” Dan Mazer would be there as well. Then take the other traveling members of JB Beverley & The Wayward Drifters and Old-Timey Avery from Jayke’s current band The Goddamn Gallows, and you’ve got a comic book-style supergroup assembled ready to fight crime. Well, more like supervillans ready to make it.
First and foremost, It’s All Been Said is a country album. There’s some bluegrass and some of the gothic feel at times, but this is a singer/songwriter album straddling the mid-tempo and exploring traditional country themes. This doesn’t mean there’s no energy and attitude; on the contrary. If years down the road underground country dries up and we all move on to become heroin addicts listening to fusion jazz or something, this album will be almost a textbook example of the post-punk country era when kids growing up listening to punk and metal infused a new energy into traditional country in a brilliant way.
The album starts out with a dark montage, then launches right into one of the standout tracks, the bluegrass instrumental “Yankee Taste.” Every good album has what I like to call a ‘sweet spot’ or a series of songs that you can listen through without fast forwarding, and that work together as a group. The whole second half of this album is a sweet spot, starting with the rapid fire lyrics and blazing Hunnicutt guitar on “Thunderbolts and Lightning.” The song “Streets” might be the best on the album, and it certainly is the best arranged, with infectious harmonies, JB Beverly singing a verse, and a pseudo-live audio bed that gives it a very Viva Terlingua feel.
There’s not a ton of blazing mandolin on this album as some might expect, but the songs “Dreadful Sinner” and “Shady Grove Gypsy Moon” illustrate what the Jayke Orvis mando style is all about. He has an uncanny ability to orchestrate notes, chords, and runs that present the theme and mood of a song perfectly, and then he executes with a dizzying preciseness. His playing is super clean; very wise and thought out, almost like he’s playing off of sheet music. And the way he utilizes dark chords and minor movements makes his mandolin songs hauntingly epic.
I didn’t feel a ton of direction or continuity in this album, especially in the first half. But I think that is what Jake is hinting at with the album title. He not trying to be cute or conceptual. This is a collection of songs he’s written over a period of time assembled on an album, instead of concocting some grand idea to work from, and letting the concept get in the way of the content as is so often the case. Jayke is not a dedicated frontman, nor a crooner. He’s a sideman who can write a song, and has the confidence and the skills to be the frontman when called upon. This unselfish, wise approach has resulted in some superb music with numerous projects.
When Jayke was let go from the .357 String Band, fans took sides and debated the move. Regardless of the outcome or opinions, what it illustrated was that people cared, and that people were paying attention. This is good. It was a sign of vitality. Jayke could have gone back to Michigan and worked in a machine shop after that. But he emerged as much more than just the former .357 mandolin player. He emerged as Jake “Goddamn” Orvis, a name that has meaning without being prefaced by a band. He took a punch, got right back up, and now stands as a top-tier musician in underground roots in talent, accomplishment, and legacy.
It’s All Been Said is the maiden voyage for Farmageddon Records, and can be purchased at newrootsorder.com.
Have to say I was impressed with the artwork as well.
Cathy's Reinstate Hank Bandwagon
July 11, 2010 @ 7:41 am
sometimes movin’ on is a good thing…good review.
July 11, 2010 @ 7:45 am
I agree. It was good for Jayke, it was good for Joe Buck. It allowed them both to break out of the shadows of other players and be themselves. You’d never wish for something like a band breakup but sometimes it a hidden blessing.
July 11, 2010 @ 8:06 am
True blessings are usually hidden til you stop and say, “Hey, wait a minute . . .” Yeah, there’s talent in Jayke’s fingertips. He’s a true artist/musician and proved that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I can’t wait to hear it.
July 11, 2010 @ 8:23 am
Good review. I have been listening to the album the whole weekend. My only complaint is that I wish there were more tracks, haha! Great album Jayke.
July 11, 2010 @ 9:12 am
I talked at length with Jayke last night after the Goddamn Gallows played here in NYC. Unfortunately I haven’t received my order from Farmageddon yet but I am seeing good reviews which only makes it harder to wait.
July 11, 2010 @ 10:51 am
I think there was some delay in shipping out the initial orders. Some people were also having troubles ordering on the website. They are trying to work through all those problems, and I believe people who ordered have started to receive their CD’s, so hopefully you get yours shortly.
July 11, 2010 @ 2:47 pm
Top notch writing! Thanks for the review…can’t wait to get my mitts on the CD.
July 11, 2010 @ 5:32 pm
This may be worth an order, I haven’t bought a cd (as opposed to digi download) in over 6 years, unless it was at a show.
July 11, 2010 @ 7:07 pm
I still can’t get the paypal link to work off of the farmagedon site. And I can’t find an address for Farmaggedon Records. How are you all getting your orders thru? Otherwise I guess I’ll just keep trying every day till something goes thru- or till the G.G.’s come thru on tour.
July 11, 2010 @ 7:13 pm
I promise that we will have our merch store problems figured out soon. I’m so sorry you guys!! Hang tight and we’ll get it figured out! Thanks for your patience. If you have to you can order by money order. email@example.com (Contact our shipping guy) Sorry!!!
July 11, 2010 @ 7:18 pm
Nicely put. My CD came in Friday and I was also at the Psychobilly Luau last night and saw Jayke. He is such a talent and I’m so happy to see him enjoy success with his art.
Also, if you’ve never been to see The Goddamn Gallows live, you MUST! They’re energetic and there are instruments everywhere and then there’s the FIRE!
July 11, 2010 @ 9:38 pm
I was gonna review this on the next episode of Blue Ribbon Radio, but I can’t say anything better than how you put it, so I’m just going to direct people here.
Great work Triggerman.
July 12, 2010 @ 5:49 am
Got my copy ordered yesterday.
Did you try getting there via the link Triggerman posted in this review? Worked fine for me.
July 12, 2010 @ 7:16 am
nlindsay- Yeah I tried it that way to. the website has a couple of different paths to get to the checkout and then to paypal. I’ve tried them all multiple times. I can’t see how I’d be doing something wrong. But, its alright- The G.G.’s are coming to town in 2 weeks. Hopefully I can get it there. I’m excited- never seen them before.
Gillian- does Jayke play any of his tunes(new or old) at the show?
July 12, 2010 @ 8:13 am
Jammin is not the only one having problems. I’ve heard from a few others. Sounds like they know about it and are trying to fix it.
July 12, 2010 @ 5:00 pm
I just wanted to thank you for such an awesome review & for all the kind words you had to say about Jayke, myself & everyone else involved in the making of this album. I lot of love went into this project & it’s an amazing feeling to see & hear how well “It’s all been said” is being received by everyone. I also want to thank all of you for writing on this forum & helping to support Jayke. He’s an incredible talent & one of favorite human beings. That being said I believe he deserves happiness & success.
Thanks again & have a great day!
July 14, 2010 @ 2:41 am
is it an open secret, that “yankee taste” is a cover of bill monroe’s “southern flavor”?
Saving Country Music » Blog Archive » New Dates & New Downloads (Get Some!)
July 30, 2010 @ 6:08 pm
[…] Also Jayke Orvis’s new album It’s All Been Said was just made available for download. So those of you having Farmageddon paypal problems can try that route. Or you can continue to email me incessantly about a problem I have no control over, over and over again and see if that works. (Read my review of the album HERE.) […]
Jayke Orvis Gets Deep About .357 Breakup « Saving Country Music
September 27, 2010 @ 8:59 am
[…] the nearly hour long Jayke Orvis interview, where he also talks about his upbringing, his new album It’s All Been Said among other […]
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