Austin singer/songwriter Jonny Burke’s debut is an impressive affair as he goes from Stones-like rock ’n’ roll in the first two tracks to surefire country twang (accent on believability and tradition, with a left-field hippie aesthetic). Produced by Marc Ford (Black Crowes) with an earthy acoustic underbelly that puts Burke’s eccentric voice up front, consider this post-Americana or how ‘bout alternative Americana? Labels aside, the softer stuff is sweet and direct, its stringed beauty providing a comfortable bed for the singer. There’s even some John Prine/Townes Van Zandt wisdom in some of the songs.
“Don’t let me fall ‘cause I might not get up again,” he pleads in “Don’t Let Me Fall,” his voice vulnerable and quivering. In other scenes, he’s either “Broke Again” or in a “Long Steady Decline.” Dude’s real. He’s been criss-crossing the country for years now, touring on the cheap with talented friends Hayes Carll, Todd Snider, Ryan Bingham and James McMurtry. Consider ‘em all the modern-day equivalent of another generation’s road-weary friends—Kris, Willie, Big John, Waylon, Guy Clark, Donnie Fritts and Jerry Jeff—who stole each other’s songs with the greatest of respect.
And just to show you that you can’t bottle this dude up in any one category, his nine originals stand next to one cover and one cover only: “Human Music” by 1970s Brit-Pop band The Soft Boys. The Soft Boys?
In A Word: Eclectic