Maybe it's just me but judging from the cover of Gentleman Jesse's new album, Leaving Atlanta, it seems there are some changes afoot compared to his previous records.
First off that 70's porn star mustache he was sporting for awhile has been shorn. No big deal there though because the 70's porn mustache has ran it's course and, unless one is seeking a gig in, well 70's porn or in a print ad for cigarettes, there isn't much use for one as both are either long gone except for Tumblr pages and other obscure parts of the internet.
If he did chose to go in such a direction though one couldn't really blame him though as he had gone through the past few years. Getting smashed in the face and suffering a broken nose while acting as a good Samaritan as well as having 5 friends die over the last couple of years like he did would make anyone pondering where life is leading them and consider being a bit more sedate and a lot more introspective.
For those smitten with smiles & wrinkle free ties Merseybeat pop crispness meet the dirty & frayed cuff and scarred southern charm of his previous records need not fret. The sound of the men are gone just in name and, with the addition of the occasional electric piano/organ blips and doubled up guitar interplay, the songs sound a bit more fortified and beefed up (in a good way) than on previous outings.
Album opener, "Eat Me Alive", sounds like the Chords if they had had a Buddy Holly jones instead of studying the Jam's This Is The Modern World a little too much and could have gotten Richard Gottehrer to produce. Add King Louie Bankston, a guy who knows his way around a loud and catchy pop song as his time with the Exploding Hearts and last year's Missing Monuments album showed, blowing a bit of harmonica and contributing his croaky croon, to the track and the album comes out of the gate at a good pace.
Another thing that hasn't changed is Jesse's observation of being unlucky at love (or at least just bad luck when choosing who to love) as most of the songs prove here and like the those songs from the proceeding records he may be bummed out by the situation the songs upbeat tempo's and chiming Rickenbacker sounds make it feel like everything is all easy come easy go.
While the "...And His Men" album sounded like it was tailor made for being the opening act of a Tom Petty or Cheap Trick tour in 1978 the songs are a bit more varied here style-wise that the usual standard power pop revisionist go to tricks. While all the songs are bright and sweet like bowl full of fruit punch with a bit of spike from someone dumping a 5th of cheap ass vodka into them tracks like "You Give Me Shivers" and "Rooting For The Underdog" are pub rock you can pogo to, "Word Gets Around" resembles an outtake from Elvis Costello's RnB dabblings on Get Happy and "Covering Up My Tracks" could qualify as one of the most decent boys dream of dating Ronettes/Shangri-Las type of tune since Johnny stole Joey's girlfriend.