If Jarrod Dickenson’s third studio album, BIG TALK sounds like a mighty roar of defiance, that’s not a design choice or a marketing decision. The big Texan is settling scores all over town and he means every f*cking word.
It’s been something of a journey for Dickenson in the years since his last album, Ready The Horses drew the appreciation of listeners, press and radio alike and yielded invitations to tour with such legendary figures as Bonnie Raitt and Don McLean. Q Magazine noted how “…his songs carry an independent spirit and grit… a hard-bitten, yet romantic eye that seems bred into Lone Star Songwriters”, while American Songwriter observed that “…his deep, emotional, often luxurious voice envelops songs of love and loss, enticing you into these stories.” Uncut came right out and called him “a smokey-toned Texan with a smooth line in Country-Soul…” and on the evidence of the album’s more mellifluous moments, it would be hard to disagree with this snapshot of Dickenson as something akin to the Otis Redding of Americana, a Sinatra of The South.
So what happened in the years since the release of Dickenson’s soulful sophomore long player, Ready The Horses, to have turned this honey-voiced southern gentleman into a brawler?
After a major label deal-gone-bad threatened to choke off his career, Covid complications left him with a life-long medical condition and the Trump era sought to eviscerate the notion that America might still be that shining city on a hill, Dickenson would have been forgiven for retreating to his Nashville home to lick his wounds and maybe write a collection of introspective self-pity anthems. Instead, as he affirms on opening track “Buckle Under Pressure,” Dickenson has “come up swinging”. The hardships and infuriation of recent years have only added steel to the resolve of an artist already willing to do it the hard way, prepared to stand in the face of a music business that shows dwindling regard for the brand of artistry that first inspired him to pick up a guitar and sing for his life.
This album represents his most direct and uncompromising body of songwriting to date and Dickenson’s decision to occupy the producer’s chair has injected BIG TALK with a drive and coherence that compliments the muscle of its material. Furthermore, he has assembled a band of ferocious players to bring these songs to life with striking authenticity in a series of live sessions recorded to tape.
The album features the talents of Jano Rix (The Wood Brothers) on drums and keys, Ted Pecchio (Doyle Bramhall II, Tedeschi Trucks Band) on bass, JP Ruggieri on guitars and Claire Dickenson on backing vocals. Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers makes a guest appearance, singing on the song “Home Again”, and Ethan Johns (Producer – Ray LaMontagne, Ryan Adams, Laura Marling, Kings of Leon) wrote the string arrangement for the closing torch song, “Goodnight”.
Together they create that unmistakable sound that only comes from the assembly of great players, in a room, having a blast. And what better way to flip the bird at those dark entities that inspired the album’s creation than to rage with such joy?
If his previous works have ventured a foot onto the territory of rock and roll, BIG TALK plants a large flag. It’s classic like Petty, gritty like Waits. There are McCartney-esque melodies and the blues get thrown down with a certain Rolling Stones swagger, and yet Jarrod Dickenson has crafted a sound that is all his own. BIG TALK sounds for all the world like a man who has found his groove. Get the record, see a show, just don’t piss him off.
About Jarrod Dickenson…
Jarrod Dickenson is a guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer, originally from Waco, Texas, now based in Nashville. His two albums, The Lonesome Traveler and Ready The Horses, along with his EP, Under A Texas Sky have earned him critical acclaim and a devoted audience on both sides of the Atlantic. Not one to fear an exhausting tour schedule, Dickenson has entranced crowds all over Europe and the US and shared stages with such legendary artists as Bonnie Raitt, Don McLean, The Waterboys, Jools Holland and Jimmie Vaughan. He has performed at prestigious festivals such as Glastonbury and Cambridge Folk Festival. In addition to his origin as a Texan, his current status as a Tennessee resident, and the fact that he dropped enough rent over the years to deserve to call himself a New Yorker, Dickenson is also an adopted son of Belfast. It was in the Northern Irish city where he met wife and bandmate Claire Dickenson whose luscious, versatile vocal has become a central ingredient of his sound on stage and on record.
After a baptism of fire in the world of the major labels, Jarrod Dickenson now exists as a fiercely independent artist, a look that suits him well and allows his creativity to follow whatever path it damn well pleases. Nowhere is this attitude better encapsulated than in the bluesy rock and roll growl of his uncompromising new album BIG TALK, released worldwide February 3rd, 2023 via Hooked Records.