There are countless stories to be told, and it always seems as though there is never enough time to tell them all. There are people whose voices need support, and memories looking for an audience.
This is where New York-based Americana outfit JD & The Straight Shot find themselves currently residing, in a musical atmosphere where personal experiences and complicated narratives vie for attention and influence. Their work is authentically rural and steeped in a long history of folk and country music, resulting in a sound as classic as it is distinctive.
Built around the combined talents of singer-guitarist Jim Dolan, singer-guitarist-producer Marc Copely, upright bassist-banjoist Byron House, violinist-fiddler-singer Erin Slaver, drummer-percussionist Shawn Pelton and singer-guitarist Carolyn Dawn Johnson, the band shoulders a collective musical history that spans decades and features performances with artists such as Dolly Parton, Robert Plant, Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow and Miranda Lambert.
Their sound is often gentle and evocative of less complicated times but is also perfectly aware of the difficult times in which it finds itself. This is especially evident on their latest record, “The Great Divide,” an all-acoustic collection which resonates with an uncommon intimacy and persuasion. The album was recorded at Sound Stage Studios in Nashville with Copely manning the boards. Across its length, echoes of The Yardbirds, Jefferson Airplane and Fleetwood Mac shake and reverberate alongside the usual Americana rhythms and tones, sustaining both a contemplative and passionate perspective that never feels staid or listless.
After the recent offering of “The Great Divide” – it was released on March 15 -- the band headed to House of Blues Studios in Nashville for an in-studio performance of the record’s title track. The accompanying video that was filmed highlights the band’s remarkable interpersonal dynamics, with each member feeding off the energy and movements of the person next to them. In this atmosphere, the song is given room to expand and breathe even further than its album counterpart. Acoustic guitars shimmer and strum as bass notes wobble in the air. Gorgeous strings are pitched against an engaging percussive foundation. The band makes great use of space within the track, allowing each instrument to completely fill the studio regardless of their individual contributions.
Lyrically, the track examines the divisions which have become all too evident in our lives – fractures in our communal psyche that have led to the fomenting of animosity and inflexible ideologies. By calling for some semblance of civility, they hope to find common ground with others who understand the importance of respectful discourse and discussion which specifically denounces hate and intolerance with those who might not share the same political or social opinions. “The Great Divide” is a song that hopes for reconciliation but understands that you can’t necessarily change someone’s perspective overnight. Just talk and debate, and we may find that we all have more in common than our differences might suggest.