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Thursday, September 16, 2010

JP Den Tex - American Tune

JP Den Tex - American Tune
2009, Commes Les Chansons

JP Den Tex is Dutch born and sings like an Englishman, but some part of his heart has always been reserved for America. Den Tex took his own American odyssey and documented it in song on American Tune. Steeped in the deep richness of Americana, Den Tex sings and writes in the vein of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe but finds a voice that’s uniquely his own.

American Tune opens with "The Dreamer", a solid Americana composition informed by blues, country and rock influences. Den Tex' guitar style is a mix of Knopfler's quiet intricacy and Clapton's innate mellowness. The song has a solid melody that's catchy but not ostentatious; a great opener. "Love So Helpless" is about the futility we feel at times when tragedy befalls those we love and occasionally the unseen consequences. "When I'm Down" is danceable and catchy with a chorus you'll be humming for days; truly one of the highlights of the album. "Mon Desir Noir" is a continuation of the story begun in "Love So Helpless", exploring how the shock and shame of tragedy can drive people who otherwise love each other apart. "Down And Out In Phoenix" examines the aftermath of such a relationship, where broken dreams abound and the future looks as barren as the desert that surrounds the narrator.

A new chapter opens in American Tune with "Un Amour Fou A San Francisco", a french/English take on new beginnings, new cities and new love. "Bowbow" turns out to be one of the most enjoyable turns on the album; very entertaining with a dirty blues feel. "Bowbow" is extremely catchy even if the meaning is at times opaque. Den Tex shows deep insight into the creation process with "True Art Is Lonely", portraying the striving for perfection as a solitary pursuit. "Vagabond Heart" is an acoustic, early-rock arrangement complete with doo-wop style backing vocals. Catchy and fun, it’s an ode to all of those who don't quite fit in. Answers come on "Hero" with the realization that victory often comes in the form of facing up to our own baggage, and the rewards seem to come quickly once we face ourselves. Den Tex closes with a brilliant cover of "We'll Sweep Out The Ashes", a Joyce Allsup-penned tune recorded by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris among others. Den Tex duets with Vera van den Poel providing a unique aperture into the camaraderie of loneliness and the moments when its boundaries are shared.

JP Den Tex spins a tale of love, loss, grief and renewal on American Tune. The fall from grace is hard, but rebirth the more difficult task in a quietly competent collection of songs that won't wash over you but quietly insinuate themselves into your mind. Den Tex is a deft story-teller, changing pace and perspective enough to keep the story vibrant. In an age where concept albums have lost their luster, Den Tex offers a shining example of what's right with the form.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about JP Den Tex at or Tune is available from as both a CD and DownloadThe album is also available through iTunes.

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