Live At Hillbilly Haiku
Deep Fried Discs
To be a good songwriter, hell, to be a good human requires empathy – ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another’. John Prine has it to spare, as did Townes Van Zandt. And you can add Jefferson Ross to the list. Not saying he’s at their level – yet – but he creates songs that you can identify with, smile at or grimace in painful acknowledgment of the shared lessons he tells. Based out of Savannah, Georgia, his newest release, Live at Hillbilly Haiku is fourteen cuts of simple wisdom, a few humorous asides and realistic portrayals of everyday folk, such as the down on his luck drunk in “Trying Not To Lose My Mind” or the heartbroken suitor of “Yesterday’s Paper”.
Ross is a nimble guitarist, and with producer Thomm Jutz on second guitar the album flows from one illuminating story to another, opening with “Two Horses” where the combined guitars highlight the tale of the “whiskey priest”. The two give a clinic in subtle guitar playing in the instrumental “Dunwoody Train”. An encounter with a swamp medium forms the basis for “77 Lime Green Cadillac Hearse”, followed up with “Confederate Jasmine”, which examines the life of those who “fade on the vine”.
The record ends with “Not The Thunder”, and in his low-key way, Ross has painted a picture of fourteen lives, some with broad strokes, at other times with a fine eye for detail. Keep an eye on Jefferson Ross. You’ll end up learning something.