‘Is there such a thing as prog folk rock?‘ – Niall McGuirk on the self titled EP fromJeffrey Lewis & The Jrams released earlier this year Low fi exponent Jeffrey Lewis is as prolific as a music factory. He churns out comics and records at an alarming pace. He has been responsible for the low fi take on Crass with his 10 Crass Songs record. He also is working his way through history lessons with his powerpoint presentations as part of his live set. It’s all about interaction with the crowd and his very own style of diy. It’s simplistic and catchy but the simple things can often be the best.
There’s a coaching phenomena in football, people have been making a living out if for years and their philosophy is…. Keep it simple. Don’t complicate things as it can confuse people. Jeffrey Lewis takes that into his songwriting. His manifesto for music is “What would pussy riot do”, as he wonders about artists that are ready to take corporate sponsorship rather than batting it off and taking on corporations. He is constantly reinventing his low-fi folk and currently plays with the JRAMS. On this record we have a mix of styles complementing the low fi. Parts could come from a Juno soundtrack, parts are country, parts are punk rock but it is all steeped in DIY culture.
Jeffrey books his own gigs, doesn’t worry about hotel rooms and just plays what he wants. The record starts off with an invitation to his birthday party. This continues with a new policy in songwriting of people deciding to meet up when their alive rather than waiting for their friends to celebrate their death. I have been to too many celebrations of peoples lives after seeing them being lowered into the ground to totally concur with this sentiment. Celebrate the living. It finishes with 1:12 of country acoustic but enveloped in between are 8 songs from wondering what indeed pussy riot would do to the reality of what life is like when a loved one leaves. The jigsaw puzzle is incomplete.
Every now and then the bass riff gets deep down and dirty, especially during It’s No Good. This is Jeffrey’s Tubular Bells. 7 minutes 8 seconds from start to finish. Is there such a thing as prog folk rock?