Jamestown Revival Take Quiet Yet Powerful Approach on Robert Ellis-produced ‘Young Man’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

The first thing you notice about the Jamestown Revival’s latest effort is just how quiet it is compared to previous records. They put aside electric guitars in favor of acoustics and despite the fact that the vocals are softer, almost whispered in places, the lyrics are given a far better chance of being heard. It’s quite appropriate as these are lyrics are some of the best in the band’s career to date.

Recorded in their native Texas with fellow Lone Star State musician Robert Ellis producing, Young Man finds Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance letting go of the reigns and tapping into a much subtler, but powerful sound. Incidentally this record marks their first collaboration with an outside producer. The 10-song set starts off with “Coyote,” a desert campfire waltz delivered with an almost conspiratorial whisper which perfectly sets up what’s to follow. 

“I really think this is an album about coming of age and settling into an identity,” Clay said recently. “It’s about losing your identity and searching for it. It’s feeling like you found it and then realizing that’s not it. And it’s about our experiences over the last 15 years of making music – the successes and failures and all of those things mixed up together.”

Though it’s certainly quieter than their other records, it is also very much still a Jamestown Revival Record with their hallmark harmonies stamped onto every track, and drawing on Americana, folk, jazz, and snatches of 1970s pop at times. They also experimented with new instruments on this album, bringing in fiddle for the first time. Though its tough to find weak tracks here, “Way It Was,” coming toward the end of the record is a particularly sublime example of what makes this duo so compelling. The title track, seemingly drawing inspiration from classic Neil Young, is a little more of a slow burn that takes a few listens to really appreciate but is well worth the patience.

Young Man is a slight departure for the band musically but not nearly enough to alienate any longtime fans of the duo. Ultimately it’s compelling enough that it’s bound to bring in new listeners at the same time. 

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