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Atlanta, Georgia singer-songwriter Jefferson Ross is partnered by esteemed Nashville session musician, sideman and producer, recording act, guitarist Thomm Jutz on this House Concert in Nashville. Ross wanted to make a live record, and what better place to do it than at Denise and Rick Williams’ intimate Hillbilly Haiku home (a sanctuary for singer-songwriters, Ross), a place he has played before and built up a great rapport with the owners and friends that frequent  the venue and others like it. 


Jutz has either worked with or produced records by Otis Gibbs, Mac Wiseman, Mary Gauthier, Peter Cooper – Eric Brace, Connie Smith, David Olney etc, and his songs recorded by Nanci Griffith, John Prine and Kim Richey and bluegrass acts Terry Baucom, Irene Kelley, Junior Sisk and the likes of Carolina Wind. And write and record three volumes covering the American Civil War, The 1861 Project.  To have him as your sideman is a fair measure of Ross’ work and standing in Nashville’s singer-songwriter community. Jutz sees Ross as “a modern day mystic, a folk artist, a man driven by the power of the written word, the beauty of melody, the poetry of images and the ever ambient allure of the South”. Credits etc are good to have, but they don’t always tell the full story, nor do reviews by us music journalist, but I will tell you this. Anything that has the name Thomm Jutz accredited to it, it is always worth a second, and counting listen. 


Ross includes fourteen songs on the album. All but two compositions are from four previous studio albums. One of them is “Soul Is Made Of Broken Things”, a gem of a song it has him speak of how it is the beat up things that he loves best, the things that have been neglected.


A wonderful story-teller as heard in spoken form on the introduction to the likes of instrumental “Dunwoody Train” Ross speaks of the old days of farming and how the used to transport crops by rail. “Isle Of Hope” is about his late brother as he recalls his native Southern home. “77 Lime Green Cadillac” likewise is from the South, about a woman traveller mixing up, and selling potions to better one’s health.


Throughout the release the listener never feels the need for more colouring of Ross’ lyrics, and with his excellent use of words he speaks of visual artists on a humour etched “Slap It On”, warmed in fine guitar he leads the listener into his move from Atlanta to Savannah and seeing all the “Confederate Jasmine”. Written with Jutz it speaks of the old American South, Sherman, ghosts (days of cotton growing) and prostitution and the great beauty of Jasmine flowering in spring. A wonderful piece it is followed by “Yesterday’s Paper”, that's decked out in prime Dobro, acoustic guitar and harmony vocals Ross’ lead the listener through the captivating tune blue ribbon standard. And so it goes ‘till he finally bows out with encore piece “Not The Thunder” (a co-write with Jutz and Nashville fiddle player singer-songwriter Andrea Zonn it speaks of letting your peace be your power). Oh to be a fly on the wall that night for here is an act worth standing in line to see. 


                                                           Maurice Hope 

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May 2018

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