One of the pleasures of the Americana scene is the number of well-seasoned musicians getting the chance to make and record new music that will find an audience, unfettered by the need to be part of some passing fad. Being true to your muse and your tastes has a cool of its own, and long experience of playing music for a living usually teaches a musician just how to communicate the thing they want to get across. Just sometimes, these guys turn out to be as good as Jack Saunders.
Long ago settled in Texas, Jack has been making a living from music for forty years – mostly in the Houston area, and latterly as a producer with his own studio, as much as a player. These eleven new songs from him demonstrate high quality as a writer and guitarist – an economical elegance in both departments that leaves you with a warm admiration for a real craftsman at work. He’s never flashy or overblown, but he’s never dull, either, as he sings songs that spring from real experiences. For all the sweet precision of his guitar playing, there’s always a little of that grit in there that distinguishes a proper folk singer. He calls his music “folk-rock/Americana” and it would be fair to say there’s a strong country element in there, too, with some lovely playing on the lap steel and dobro from the man himself. The longest track here, Doors of Amsterdam, is particularly compelling as the driving rhythm from Rick Richards on the drums provides a fine platform for Rick Saunders to hit the open road with his several guitar parts, and the lap steel in particular sounds like the very essence of bowling down the highway.
In keeping with the rest of his music, Jack Saunders’ singing is straightforward and unpretentious; he sings with warmth and clarity – you’ll never miss what he’s singing about, but you won’t doubt his heartfelt involvement in his subject matter, either. Followers of Flyinshoes Review should know that Eric Brace and Peter Cooper are very highly regarded writers and performers in these parts, and I would say that Jack Saunders stands right alongside them for his similarly understated excellence.
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