Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jake Holmes-Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes

Review by Richie Unterberger
Jake Holmes' first album will always be primarily known for the inclusion of the original version of "Dazed and Confused," the same song that, with substantial alteration to its arrangement, would become one of Led Zeppelin's major showpieces. Holmes' original is quite different and worthy in its own right: a stark, spooky folk-rock track with stinging reverbed lead guitar, Holmes' own pained vocals, and furiously strummed rhythm guitar that winds itself into an anguished climax. Unfortunately, it's by far the best song on the LP, though the tense rapid rhythm guitar and disembodied acid folk mood (by a drumless lead guitar/rhythm guitar/bass trio) are constant throughout the disc. Ted Irwin's spiky, jazz acid folk lead guitar lines are like a garage-ish version of those by frequent Tim Buckley accompanist Lee Underwood. Holmes' thin voice was recorded in a way that makes it sound curiously muffled and disembodied, which both adds to the weirdness of the weirder parts and detracts from the record's overall power. His songwriting, too, is erratic, sometimes reaching a reasonably effective level of haunting loneliness, at others descending into bathos (particularly on the closer, "Signs of Age").

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