All Over Creation
Jason Ringenberg was alt-country before it even had a name. With his band Jason & the Scorchers, the yelping tenor produced some of the finest rip-snorting cow punk the world has ever heard. His solo career has been a bit of a hit and miss endeavor however. In particular it has lacked the flash and fire that guitarist Warner Hodges brings to The Scorchers. An abortive attempt to make Jason a conventional country star in 1992 yielded the uninspired One Foot in the Honky Tonk. He didn’t get around to recording another solo disc until 2000’s A Pocketful of Soul, a low-key affair of mostly sweet, acoustic-flavored tunes.
While on tour supporting Soul, Ringenberg found himself jamming with other musicians all over the world, including a few touched by The Scorchers’ influence. All Over Creation is a product of those collaborations.
Things get off to a great start as Hamell on Trial joins Ringenberg on “Honky Tonk Maniac From Mars,” just the kind of rave-up The Scorchers were known for. “Bible and a Gun 1863” is a banjo and fiddle-tinged, Civil War-themed re-write of a Scorchers tune from 1989’s Thunder And Fire, performed here with the song’s co-writer, Steve Earle. Ringenberg revisits the Civil War later through the eyes of Irish immigrants who fled the famine on the acoustic ballad “Erin’s Seed” featuring the band Lambchop. Longtime Scorchers fan and fellow Nashvillian Tommy Womack is along for the ride on “Too High to See,” which includes what may be the quintessential Jason line: “While alabaster lust crumbles in the dust.” Swan Dive joins him for “Camille,” a sweet, sing-songy tune for one of his little daughters. Also helping out on the disc: Paul Burch, Britain’s The Wildhearts, and Todd Snider. Ringenberg also covers the George Jones obscurity “I Dreamed My Baby Came Home,” Gun Club’s “Mother Of Earth,” and Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” (a rather tepid version with BR5-49).
But the record’s unsung hero may be guitarist/multi-instrumentalist George Bradfute,. who contributes much to most of the tracks, including the set closing “The Last Train to Memphis.” Here Ringenberg talk-sings lines about looking back without regret: “I’ll take the last train to Memphis and look at that big river / Throw in my Broken Whiskey Glass and not even feel a shiver.“
With a little help from some friends, Ringenberg appears to have found his footing as a solo artist and opened up new creative horizons on All Over Creation. But that’s not to say these tracks couldn’t have benefited from a little Warner Hodges rock-and-roll crunch. Maybe next time.