Scott Jeffers Traveler 2016
American folk-rocker focuses on the green green grass of Albion and brings home a bunch of evergreen melodies.
The magnetic pull of Scott Jeffers’ musical voyages was always rooted in his refusal to be parochial, and while most of the Arizona artist’s albums are based on a journey to a particular region, there’s always a tad of going off on a geographic, and thus cultural, tangent – yet, as the success of productions like “Riverdance” suggests, there’s a commercial allure for all things Erse. Of course, Scott has a lot of such material to satisfy the demand, and one can imagine Jeffers found it difficult to cull just a platter-long of performances to create a new context for them.
Running solely through his ensemble’s second decade, Scott doesn’t pull any punches and opens the cycle with “Calico Jack (Rackhams Reel)” where his insistent violin licks are underpinned by catchy beats that threaten to turn the piece’s acoustic filigree into something heavier. This menace shall come to fruition on the record’s finale, the tripartite “Celtica”: dated 2011, it’s the earliest number on offer whose throbbing reel ‘n’ jig feature furious metal riffs to drive the drift to guitar-abetted rapture. The feel of triumph may begin to reign in full when “The Victorious” from this disc’s predecessor "Symphonia" is unfurled, but the sensual bliss emanating out of the arresting yarn of “Pirate Girl” will be impossible to resist even before Jeffers’ pipes let out a yodel.
And though a couple of fresh cuts, written especially for this compilation in Scotland, seem less impressive, the piano-propelled ballad of “Highland Road” brings about top-notch spirituality and allows Scott’s soulful vocals wallow in the organ-laden wonder. However, the down-to-earth “Cork Town Medley” requires a different sort of spirits to command the listener’s legs and feet, as does the “No Tomorrow” – the epic apex of the collective’s interplay, the anthem of perseverance – yet “Inistioge” explores cosmic conscience in a solemnly sober manner.
For all the regional angle, variety rules the game here on a multitude levels. If it can be maintained, further local collections might find their audience as well.