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J Burn: Burnt Blue

j burnJ Burn
Burnt Blue
(J Burn Music)

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San Francisco musician, activist, gardener and photographer J Burn opens his Burnt Blue EP with “Freight Train,” a slippery acoustic tune of Jason Crosby’s fiddle up front and slightly off-center harmony about losing love, while a shuffle beat and plucking banjo from Michael Nuzum follows on “Memory Lane.” Burn is certainly skirting The Dead here and showing that influence completely on “Old Time Heroes.” The ragtag piano played by Crosby and Jay Lane’s slipping snare (he’s played with Primus, Furthur, Ratdog) fuels that Dead pedigree. (Ratdog is Dead alum Bob Weir’s off-shoot musical project and these songs were recorded at TRI Studios, owned by Weir.) Burn adds some tasty electric guitar bends here as well and delivers what, for me, is probably the strongest vocal I feel across this album. Burn’s acoustic leads the last tune, “Our Song Shared” with a melody line that certainly could remind one of “Ripples.” The loose mélange of music layering here, Robin Sylvester’s slide, Crosby’s tinkling ivories, barely stays together under Burn’s barely audible vocal. I’m not sure the mess works as well here as the overall jangle did in the songs before it. Burnt Blue is certainly stuff of a specific stripe, not everyone’s taste to be sure, but fully realized in the genre it mines and with a bunch of up-to-the-task musicians.

 

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