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Monday, May 4, 2009

Review: Jefferson Hendricks - Dancin' On Cars / I Got Questions / Still In Production

Jefferson Hendricks - Dancin' On Cars/I Got Questions/Still In Production
2007/2008/2009 Gotcha Records

Jefferson Hendricks is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, and carries the spice of that land over into his songwriting. Even though he resides now on the peaceful beaches of Rhode Island and records once a year in Boston, Hendricks has never forgotten his roots. Hendricks sent three CDs for review, and we'll take a quick look at each. In general, Jefferson Hendricks follows a country/rock hybrid that isn't entirely Southern Rock and isn't strictly Americana, although his newer material seems to branch out a bit beyond those boundaries. Hendricks has a pleasant vocal sound within a limited range and sticks pretty much within his comfort range across the three albums presented for review.

Dancin' On Cars
Hendricks opens with upbeat Americana/Rock on the title track, but gets a little too suave for his own good on Red Dress. Shame is a dark and commercial listen but fails to really hit memorable status. I Can't Dance is the highlight here. This song could make some noise on the country charts with the right push. Put this song on an album from a big name artist and its an instant hit. Rolleen is also interesting; Hendricks seems to go for the California Country sound of The Eagles here in a catchy, commercial offering.

I Got Questions
This is probably the weakest of the three albums, but it does have a few high points. A Woman For Me has a rockabilly feel and will wiggle its way into your brain. Think About It is a side trip to Margaritaville that seemed a little out of place but was otherwise enjoyable. Sweet Memories is a great song but I disliked the opening so much it ruined the song for me. Makin' Love is the gem here. It's by far the best writing on the album and would make a great crossover pop hit. You'll find yourself humming this one long after the CD has stopped spinning.

Still In Production
“Still In Production” isn’t the title of the CD, but the working title listed when the CD was sent. The new disc is due in late Spring of 2009 and is by far the best of the three CDs Hendricks sent. I'm Gonna Make It Better is a musical apology appropriate for a twelve step program. Heros is a glory days song about childhood and the wisdom of never growing up entirely. Where's The Love is a slinky bit of cabaret pop that turns into a 1960's rocker. It's a memorable and singable song that contains a statement of American character and intent that seems appropriate for a post-Bush world. NOLA is a touching tribute to New Orleans that takes on a Jimmy Buffet flavor. The best commercial shot here is Hard To Get, a song that could be a pop hit with the right arrangement.

Jefferson Hendricks manages to catch lightning in the songwriting bottle now and then across the three albums presented here. In general the songwriting and performances are average to good, but each album manages one or two tracks that are memorable. If you like Country/Americana/Rock that doesn't stick to the game plan then Hendricks will appeal to you, but I'd check out the material before you buy.


Dancin' On Cars - 2.5 Stars
I Got Questions - 2.0 Stars
Still In Production - 3.5 Stars

You can learn more about Jefferson Hendricks at Hendricks currently has Dancin’ On Cars for sale on his website. The site indicates I Got Questions is available but doesn’t offer it for sale. A new album (listed here as Still In Production) is due late Spring, 2009.

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