Review: Jamestown Revival
On Robert Ellis-produced fourth LP, Young Man, the Austin folk duo lays bare their intimate harmonies
Like winds carving against a slab of Appalachia stone, opening cut "Coyote" sweeps as steel guitar blossoms ethereal with bare-boned acoustics on Young Man, the fourth LP from Austin folk duo Jamestown Revival. As the album strips bare, Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay backpack through rural Americana and all the dusty back roads of Southern roots music.
The title track soars with proverbial supplication – "Where did the young man go?/ When did he lose that fire?/ Did he just grow old?" – but grounded corporeal as harmonized tenors entwine with rollicking fiddles. Similar to their preceding album San Isabel (2019), songs "Moving Man" and "Northbound" pull back the reins, wherein ambience lies in constraint. The former nests into in-the-pocket blues as hushed cymbals and plucked strings lag to a cool stride, whereas the latter's strolling six-string surrenders to crisp air and rides it.
Under the production touch of Texas songwriter and instrumentalist Robert Ellis, Young Man strikes a balance between the intimacy of JR's latest two releases, San Isabel and 2020's A Field Guide to Loneliness EP, and the heartiness of 2014 debut Utah. "One Step Forward" blooms with each sound layered and sequential. Tactile harmonies and acoustics alone suspend in air as shuffled brush percussion and solemn strings creep in. "Old Man Looking Back" reprises the title track's acute nostalgia with broad and resonant strokes veiled with hard-won optimism and weary-eyed introspection.