San Francisco-based J Burn’s latest EP, the four-tracked Burnt Blue, is a low-key Americana rock collection filled with nostalgia and longing for better days long gone. Released this past June, Jay Burn (vocals, guitar), Jay Lane (drums, percussion), Robin Sylvester (bass, slide guitar), Jason Crosby (vocals, piano, violin), and Michael Nuzum (guitar, banjo, mandolin) are using this group of tunes as a lead-up to their next full-length album.
However packaged, every song in the set is about the good old days, be it the simply built, full, toe-tapping “Freight Train” or the piano-led, saloon-friendly “Old Time Heroes.” The former kicks off the EP with a bass-driven mid-tempo beat supported by strings, percussion, and layered vocals, creating a sound one can easily picture being played live in a barn somewhere. The latter’s playful piano, however, has a dark edge of a drunken depression.
The same feeling is present in “Our Song Shared”, albeit not as headily so. One feels almost paralyzed by the weight of the nostalgia in such lyrics as: “Way back/In ’87/We were tripping down/That open road/Not a worry between us/As we made our way together/We were cruising any way the wind did blow/Back then freedom wasn’t just a dream/We were living simple and happy/Well within our means/The road seemed dandy/Right beneath our feet”. And while the upbeat melody in “Memory Lane” gives the impression that perhaps things are different in this track, it ends up being more of the same.
This is an EP made for fans of Americana and folk rock. There is nothing unique or cutting-edge about it, making it comfortingly familiar. There is clear quality in all its aspects and elements; but despite the fact that the songs are well built and played, there is something stifling and disempowering about so much nostalgia.
Pictures provided by Independent Music Promotions.
First published on Blogcritics.