Philadelphia's Jefferson Berry has lived a varied, interesting life. He is a member of the PFS Musician's Co-Op, is a mainstay at Philadelphia Folksong Society Events, and has played the Philadelphia Folk Festival numerous times. When he's not performing on the stage, he is performing in the classroom, as a history and government teacher in the Philadelphia School District. He even taught Lil Uzi Vert.
His group -- Jefferson Berry and the Urban Acoustic Coalition -- has just released their third full-length LP, Double Deadbolt Logic. The folk/rock group consists of a revolving door of musicians, anywhere from three to seven, but includes Bud Burroughs, Dave Brown, and Marky B. Berkowitz, as well as Uncle Mike and David Rappaport on bass and drums. Anchored by Berry, the songwriting and playing is formidable to say the least.
The album leads off with "At The Festival," a folky track with acoustic guitars and mandolins. The song showcases some excellent harmonies and pays tribute to late night jam sessions at music festivals long after the fans have left. "She Was Baking Bread" is an ode to Cathy Guntli, the late owner of the Liberty Café in San Francisco. The song has a jazzy feel and sings the praises of her considerable cooking prowess.
"Ghosts Of California" finds the song's subject returning to his home, feeling guilty about being gone and finding the town not like he remembered it. This pop cut features some tasty piano and mandolin. On "Troubles With The Mood," Berry takes his time, allowing space for the instruments in this slow burning, jazz-influenced folk track. Mandolins and flutes punctuate the song and Berry delivers a vocal that recalls Elvis Costello.
The group adopts a slinky, bluesy groove on "Not Enough Time," with an edgy lead vocal from Berry to match, while "Shattered Glass" is a rhythmic track with pop hooks for miles. "Get To The Shore" is country-flavored, breezy pop with some nice pedal steel guitar and an ode to Berry's native Philadelphia. The album ends with "Crime In The City," an acoustic rocker, with a gritty, bluesy vocal from Berry.
Whether playing straight up folk, country, blues, jazz, rock or a combination of these, the musicianship on Double Deadbolt Logic is superb. This is a testimony to the fine musicians Berry has assembled for his project. Still, the best players in the world don't matter at all if the songs aren't there. Fortunately, Berry delivers here as well, offering up a dozen strong, varied tunes.
Official Site: www.jeffersonberry.com