Music review and promotion in central Indiana and surrounding areas since 2013
www.rickerrocker.com

Jason Wells

~Jason Wells~
Southern Rock/Classic Rock

Rock N Roll Revival
Sound Edge Records

2/17/2016


Artist:
https://www.facebook.com/jwells76

Jason Wells - Guitar, Lead Vocals
Steve Harshman - Bass
Larry Pfohl - Drums
Shannon Melton - Recording Engineer

Writing credits taken from album track list, additional credits verified with artist.

I first met Jason Wells in August of 2013.  I had recently returned to the area from hiatus, and found myself once again seeking out local music.  I landed in a local pub featuring what was then known as The Jason Wells Band.

http://www.rickerrocker.com/the-jason-wells-band.html

He played some great covers that night.  I could tell immediately he took the guitar seriously.  Even while on a short break, his work ethic was showing as he scuttled his band back onto the stage.  Although, I wasn’t aware of how hard he was working back then.  He alluded at one point in the evening to doing what he love full time.  At the time I felt that the Lafayette area could stand to have a more genre-diverse spectrum added to its established sound.  I remarked several times on his nimble fretwork, noting that if he continued to build on what was a solid sound then of his own he would do well.

Most of us who know Jason now regard that as a foregone conclusion.  Back then however, I hadn’t yet heard his album to come,
The Modern Vintage Movement.  With one album prior to TMVM, his catalog appeared to go back to mid-2011.

Unfortunately however, I didn’t get to give
TMVM a full listen to until early 2015.  It was a fresh and welcome take on Southern Rock with a bit of blues.  I enjoyed it.  When I heard of the new album’s possibility, I immediately put him on my radar waiting to hear what had been transpiring in the studio.  When Rock N Roll Revival impending release was announced, I decided that I had to find out just how much the JW sound had progressed.

Thanks to Jason and his band and crew for providing the local scene with a well crafted album.  I appreciate it not only as a review but as a listener as well.




Track 1
Down The Road
Jason Wells

He starts it off right, setting the tone at the onset with an explosive open creating an expectation of what’s to come.  By the halfway point in the first track you’re keenly aware that there is an ‘on the road’ theme, honoring the story-telling style so present in the genre.  He’s no different.  He has a story to tell and he opens with his version of a ‘...once upon a time...’ story, a hard hitting riff letting us know that he’s on his way somewhere.  Somewhere down the road.

It has a simple but immediate guitar hook.  But I especially like the double riff just before the guitar solo.  It’s a nice creative addition to the round out with the right dose of power and rich tonality.  It builds in classic Southern Rock fashion with a steady, almost engine-like quality.

Definitely a concert opener.  I can imagine hearing that big sound on stage.  It has the right structure for a nice concert breakdown...but it fits best as the right choice for the album opener.

Track 2
Gypsy Woman

Jason Wells

This one was my immediate favorite*.  It has elements of the genre, but also an interesting breakdown that is inclusive of other genres and styles.

An excellent and distinctly catchy guitar hook opener, a powerful offering for the the consummate listener as well as someone new to Southern Rock.  Straight into the chorus just seconds into the track, you know what’s in store.

The middle guitar breakdown just before the solo is a slight reconstruction of the hook but it totally works.  It falls into the bridge smoothly.  I love the jazz feel between the major parts of the song, not so you would detect a jazz influence necessarily, but more so a growth or a progression musically.

Do yourself a favor.  The first time you listen...repeat that track before you go on.

*The extended guitar solo and the strong return of the chorus make this my favorite.  Perhaps I’ll post an update if I can ever get the hook out of my head.

Track 3
It Ain’t Me

Jason Wells, keyboard by Gibson Wells

Continuing the road theme, only this time with a ‘searching for something’ under current.  I enjoy listening for those themes in music.  They are usually written from the heart, and are usually musically rewarding.

This track is no exception.  My favorite part of this song is the guitar solo followed by the riff breakdown...another good one for an extended concert set.  The overlaid guitar toward the end of the song is especially crisp, much tighter ending to that song than the beginning, but a solid tune overall.  It’s one of two that I replayed several times to get the feel I’m sure JW must have been going for.

Pleased as well that the guitar remained present throughout.  Southern Rock artists tend to forget those of us who are guitar lovers toward the end of the song.  This one teases you right on out to the end...

Track 4
I’m Not A Hat Wearin Man

Jason Wells

What’s this? No hat?

I like to call this one ‘Quick Blues’, not a filler mind you, but placed in a perfect spot on the album between a slightly slower tune and a slightly soulful tune.  Much like a concert set should be done.  Someone in the JW camp has an innate knowledge of track placement.  Well done.

It serves as well to highlight both JW’s guitar talent, as well as some lyrical fun.  A solid and dependable solo during the breakdown.  It sets you up for the next track.  It’s a great sunrise before a great sunset.

I can see how this one might carry more airplay due to lyrical content.  But more than that, this track takes the most advantage of Jason’s vocals.  It fits perfectly in his wheelhouse.

Track 5
Fly Me Away
Jason Wells, co-writer Gibson Wells, keyboard by Gibson Wells

I expected Fly Me Away to be a little slower from the feel of the intro, and I was almost disappointed that it didn’t remain slow until I let it started to grow on me through the guitar solo...it’s fast enough to keep time with the song, but slow enough to let you groove while the imagery pervades.  You were after all, just rolling down the road looking for a gypsy woman...now you’re taking off your hat and it’s time to do some soul-searching. It’s a soulful, almost hymnal tune.  It has a good build early on, and holds itself upright soulfully.

Track 6
What We Came To Do
Jason Wells, co-writer Larry Pfohl

“...we just gonna do it huh...?” - :)

This song is a story.  I referred earlier to imagery.  This one allows plenty.  I can listen to the song and piece together what must have been a challenging but rewarding road trip for the band.

It’s one of those I replayed a few times before proceeding through on each full listen.  It’s my second choice for a concert opener.  But what I like most about this one is it’s sincere musical structure over the others.  It’s a personal extraction mind you, but it’s what I hear.

There’s a standard phrase that teachers use when you’re trying to impart wisdom to others.  “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them what you came to tell them, then tell them what you just told them.”

And that they did.

Track 7
They Say
Jason Wells

Nice riff for the opener.  Although...it’s not what hooked me.

I felt like this track was much more guitar-centric than the others.  It showcases JW’s riffing talent, then continues the imagination trail with strong baseline (not ‘bassline’ kids, pay attention now) of rhythm that keeps the blues vibe running right along with the southern rock vibe.  I consider this track the most inclusive of both.  It serves as a pause and a bridge between both the music and the musical wanderings.

The end note on this tune is my favorite of all the track end notes on the album.  It’s a breath again, before the next bite.


Track 8
Sitting At The Station
Jason Wells, co-writer Shawn Cole

All good things must come to an end.  But rather than surprise you with a road block or a ‘bridge out’ sign, JW does us a solid and prepares us for the end.

Lyrically my favorite, Sitting At The Station lets you know it’s okay to keep relaxing, but the end is near.  You’re waiting on the train, why not jam a little and ponder your choices?

If you want real musical imagery, this is your tune.  It has all the elements.  Jason laments in regret over the events of the road.  Metaphorical train perhaps.  But here it comes either way.

I picture he and the band using a jam session to tell each other it’s been a great ride but they have to go.  They each play a little, tell their story to the music, nod in agreement that it’s been a long hard road, give each other a pat on the shoulder and knock off the dust simultaneously, and prepare to board.

Even the drum roll intro to the guitar solo lets you know the train is coming.  The solo signals that chugging sound, giving it power.  Complemented by Jason’s fearless vocals, it’s a strong contender for best track on the album.

As I write this I conjure up some fantastic music video ideas.  - :)

Track 9
She’s Gone
Jason Wells, co-writer Gibson Wells

What would a southern rock album be without a song about a girl? How about a song about chasing her? How about losing her in the end anyway even though you’ve chased her for what seems like forever?

About halfway through the song you’re rooting for him to gain some ground in that hot rod he must be driving.  Sun at his back and damn...he still can’t catch up.  You expect him to catch her.

Nope.

It’s likely of course that JW meant this song metaphorically, (most good music is meant that way) as if to say he’s chasing something and ‘she’ is always just out of reach.  It is a storybook musician’s tale.  Always their own critic...searching...working...creating.

But isn’t it so much more rewarding as a listener to imagine the car chasing the girl?

Yeah...drive that car buddy.

Track 10
Tear Down These Walls

Jason Wells

Regardless of lyrical intent, if the artist didn’t intend for the previous track to be a metaphor, this one definitely makes a statement.  He’s telling us there’s work to do.  He’s going to roll up his sleeves and get it done.

It’s a short track by comparison, but it could be so because it speaks loudly and clearly about the artist’s intent.  I especially love the radio vocal sound in the middle of the track.  It adds a flavor that keeps you until the end.

“Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them what you came to tell them, then tell them what you just told them.”

Revival indeed.  Jason Wells succeeds in scoring a solid rock and roll awakening with Rock n Roll Revival

It’s damn good work.  It flourishes throughout, with hard work and distinct effort in each tune.  It shows tremendous growth from TMVM.  It boasts a strong beginning, and a complementary end, some well thought track placement, and is inclusive of all his talents.

JW poses a lyrical consideration.  Why let the past rule your actions? Why let others determine your fate?


I’ve said it so often now it’s become a personal mantra.  When an artist plays without fear, their music becomes viral.

It’s a pleasant discovery when an artist ends an album on the same creative note with which he began.  That’s the album experience.  That’s why I do what I do.

And best of all, it told a great story...beginning to end.

~Rick



Jason Wells holds the honor of being the first artist to have a full album reviewed by RickerRocker.com

Learn more about Jason Wells and his music at:
http://jasonwellsmusic.com/

Purchase Rock n Roll Revival at:
https://jasonwells.bandcamp.com/