Twenty years and even more albums into his career, it’s impressive that Brother JT — a.k.a. John Terlesky — has anything left to say at all. So the fact that he’s in fact brimming over with ideas, then, is nothing short of unbelievable. But here it is, the billionth album and it’s another brilliant one at that. JT remains as rooted in 1970s psychedelic folk as ever before, but that’s not really saying much, considering that what comes out of it sounds like nothing else, really. Or it sounds like everything else, who can tell?
Imagine a cross between Pavement’s offbeat lo-fi sounds and some warped, psychedelic country positioned somewhere between sing-along Grateful Dead and trippy Allman Brothers, and you’ll have at least an idea of the direction we’re heading in, if not the outcome of it. And you might be unable to tell what it was even after you’ve actually heard the album, considering the multitude of sounds and layers of ideas included here.
So, “Mellow” has JT doing an impassioned Ian Anderson vocal pastiche on top of Cat Stevens-ish nursery folk-rhymes, while “Say No More” is plain, unabashed porn sleaze. “Praise Be” is a hypnotizing, free-flowing track, placing it in rather blatant opposition to “Mole in the Ground,” which is reminiscent of early Aerosmith, for whatever weird reason, and then there is the quietly eerie, dreamy “Right There.” And while it may seem too all-inclusive, JT impressively binds it all together, turning each and every song into a new piece of the puzzle, producing a deeply personal, yet panoramic picture.
As ever, Terlesky refuses to be tied down, explicitly defies genres and restrictions, and constantly challenges both his own limitations — whatever there may be left of them by now — and the listener’s. Great and moving music with a sense of purpose and direction.
Drag City Records: http://www.dragcity.com