Inhabiting The Ball
The Telegraph Company
Every so often, novelists or poets take a stab at writing and recording music, and likewise, singers and musicians have dabbled in publishing their poetry or prose, but seldom do the two realms collide, the Jewel argument notwithstanding. Inhabiting The Ball, Jim Roll’s third album, features 13 tracks, and eight of the songs contain lyrics penned by notable authors and set to Roll’s music. Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son) wrote the lyrics to “You,” a No Depression-style ballad that is the softest moment on the album, perhaps because it links a special place in time with, in this case, burgundy wine, the way Deana Carter did with strawberry variety and Elton John did with wine made of elderberries. It is followed by the most abrasive tune, “Killjoy,” by Rick Moody (The Ice Storm).
Roll doesn’t only spice up the album with other voices, but the songs, short stories each and every one, take on various musical tones from the Southern country of “Blue Guitar,” another Moody song about an imparted guitar which causes an intra-family feud, to “In-Flight Magazines,” which is the closest the album comes to offering a straight-forward rock n’ roll song. Should any of the numbers be optioned for a screenplay the way the authors’ other works have, it would have to be “Eddie Rode the Orphan Train,” which is actually one of the five songs for which Roll wrote the lyrics. Based on the real life story his friend’s grandfather, “Eddie” features Jim playing banjo, guitars and electric bass, resulting in a pure folk song that would be at home on Neil Young’s Harvest or Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde.
Should Jim Roll ever write a novel or collection of short stories, I’m sure it would sound just as good.
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