With his first official solo album, Junk, along with his good friend and talented musician in her own right Rachel Brooke, have put together a brilliant, quality, and surprisingly accessible long runner with an eponymous title.
This is one of those albums you can put on in the background of any gathering of any people, rednecks, hipsters, whatever, and somebody is bound to say, “Wow, what is this we’re listening to?” This was my first impression of this album, and when I tried it out a couple of times, my hypothesis was confirmed. It is not an album to bang your head to or have on as you go ripping down a muddy road. It is mood music . . . and I mean that in a good way.
The best part about Junk’s music is his unique voice, and the lo-fi, straight forward production that displays the heart of the song with no frills. It’s easy to compare Junk’s voice to Tom Waits, but I don’t think this is fair to either artist. One of its primary elements is a rasp, but Junk’s voice is way more consistent and calculated that Waits, and the way it contrasts with Rachel’s soft yet pained voice is sublime.
If this was a straight collaboration with Rachel Brooke, there would be room to complain that her harmonies are mixed too low. But since this is Junk’s project, the mix is perfect, which ironically is all Rachel Brooke’s fault, because she was the one tweaking the knobs during the recording. It is not as easy as one might think to capture a raw signal and have it sound like you want it to, and that is just what Rachel has done, and then she included some tasteful work with guitar, upright bass, banjo, and slide guitar.
This project is also destined to be compared with another Rachel Brooke collaboration, A Bitter Harvest, but I think the two albums are quite different. Junk is much more accessible, and focuses more on the essence of the song with minimal production. As such, I could see these songs being fleshed out further by other artists in the future, and this would be a venture worth pursuing, because these songs are that good.
The hit of the album (so to speak) is the second track, “SOS.” The first track “Whirlwind” is really good too. Actually screw that, they’re all good songs, without one questionable judgment in any of the 11 tracks.
Junk is one of those albums you listen to and shake your head, because it is living proof that most good, original music lives these days in the underground. 99% of people will never corss paths with this album, but us 1%’ers will cherish it.
You can purchase the album by clicking here.