Scott Jeffers Traveler 2014
From Arizona to the great wide open, folk-rock’s globetrotter ties invisible sonic threads to weave an arresting tapestry.
A journey must mean measuring a physical distance for Scott Jeffers, his overseas voyages covering half the globe, so there’s purely empirical influences in the folk-rock pieces the American artist has been composing for more than two decades now. His ensemble’s albums don’t concentrate on a particular place, though, and when each of the platters reflects a part of a single trip, it’s only to expose the non-apparent links between various cultures. That’s why “Winds Of Ksar Ghilane” which traverses through the triple T’s of Tunisia, Turkey and Transylvania will create a logically whole, if stylistically scattered, image.
Driven by the band leader’s violin and embellished by an array of ethnic instruments, the eleven pieces on display are adventurous enough to keep even the most geographically indifferent listener always focused on what’s going on here. So while “Gypsy Bird” starts the intercontinental trek rather plaintively before building the momentum, Jeffers’ fiddle whipping the tune into a frenzy, csárdás-way, and Tyler Mount’s guitar adding incendiary Django-esque filigree to it, the unhurried drift of “All The Way To The Moon” finds Scott waxing lyrical and accompanying himself on mesmeric mélange of oud and banjo – set against sharp riffs – and letting his soft voice disappear in the desert ether. There, among the dunes, the orchestral grandeur of “Cows Of Kilyos” fills the Eastern-flavored air, yet the relentless beat of “If You’re Not Livin'” takes the story across the Atlantic where Appalachian trance rules the hoedown den, and the dance groove which permeates “American Boy (Persian Girl)” strengthens the bond of two worlds, Old and New one – as does the heavy blues “Vessel” that paints arabesques over Delta despair.
Totally unexpected, then, is the emergence of “Show Me A Sign” whose stark, piano-propelled spirituality opens a previously concealed aspect to Scott’s oeuvre – unlike the record’s melisma-smeared title track and the twangy “Tunis Bazaar” which represent the gist of Jeffers’ creative method or “Hitch The Wagon” which forays into the Balkans to see the Roma roam free. That’s what the catchy melody of “Long Road” seems to celebrate – this journey measuring a physical distance on your soles and fathoming your soul. A paean to never standing still, “Winds” are as fantastically real as it gets.