Garland Jeffreys makes a triumphant return with The King Of In Between (Luna Park), his first album of new material in 13 years. Garland is Rock n Roll’s version of Zelig: A constant shape-shifter who is in the scene but not necessarily part of the scene. Is that a picture of him with Springsteen? Yup. Hung with Bob Marley? That’s him. Buddies with Lou Reed? They’ve been tight since Kennedy was President. Recorded with Dr. John, Linton Kwesi Johnson, David Johansen, Nona Hendryx, Patti Austin, David ‘Fathead’ Newman, Vernon Reid and The E Street Band? True that. Add to that a songwriting style that is the most insightful, bittersweet and brutally honest that you’ll ever hear from an artist. One of the last true singer-songwriters. It’s no wonder why record companies and radio stations couldn’t quite figure out what box to fit him in. He had something for everyone and it was all done well.
Garland co-produced The King Of In Between with multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell (best known for his work with Bob Dylan and Levon Helm) and the roots-rock imprint is all over tracks such as ‘Love Like A Cliche’ and ‘Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me’. Rumbling like a Brooklyn-bound D train, ‘Coney Island Winter’ has Garland using Coney Island as a metaphor to reflect on a neighborhood’s past and future. 22 stops to the city indeed. The defiant yet life affirming ‘I’m Alive’ has hit single written all over it. It’s one of the best tracks done by ANYONE in years. With a simple, yet memorable chorus, ‘I’m alive/Not dead, I’m alive, I’m alive, alive, not dead’, the song just oozes soul.
As the album title suggests, this collection has an array of styles. Garland was one of the first American artists to incorporate reggae into his sound and it continues here with the rock steady beat on ‘All Around The World’ and the stealth reggae grooves on ‘The Beautiful Truth’. ‘Streetwise’ is a hot slab of New York funk supplemented by strings. ‘Rock And Roll Music’ stomps like it’s straight out of ’56. ‘The Contortionist’ features doo wop background vocals by long time pal Lou Reed. The closing track, ‘In God’s Waiting Room is a sly look at mortality – a cross between Reverend Gary Davis and Son House. It’s a preview of what ‘Garland Jeffreys – Folk Singer’ album could sound like. There’s also a bonus track featuring a cover of a one of the great one hit wonders of all time. I won’t say what it is, but put it this way: it stands tall with, if not exceeds, the original.
Like many of his previous works (Ghost Rider, Escape Artist, Don’t Call Me Buckwheat) The King Of In Between is destined to become a classic. The album is available now through http://www.garlandjeffreys.com. You can also go there to find out when he’ll be coming through to your town. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for Garland’s daughter Savannah, who, like her father, is an aspiring singer-songwriter.
Garland Jeffreys been away for awhile, but he’s back and right on time.