28 Nov 2022
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Jackie Bristow - Album Review: Outsider

03 Mar 2022 // A review by Roger Bowie

Jackie Bristow has travelled a long, rough-hewn road. It’s nearly seven years since her last album, the gentle and sweet Shot of Gold. Of course, there are a lot of artists whose timelines have been rejected by Covid, and Jackie’s experience is no exception. But what has changed in the last seven years has been the shift from LA to Nashville, a road trip in the old Honda (the choice of vehicle is a genetic imperative, just ask Spike), and finding her feet in the home of country, and its cohabitee genre, the more youthful, exuberant, and expansive, Americana.

And this week, her long-awaited 5th album is liberated to our ears, with Jackie stuck here at home for the past two years, waiting, waiting, waiting for stars to align and allow her new offering to be heard. It’s called Outsider, it’s out today, March 4th, and it won’t disappoint. We’ve heard three singles, we’ve heard a few songs in her local gigs while she’s been here, but we haven’t heard the full complement under the production of long-time music partner and guitarist, Mark Punch.

And that’s the gut punch that a first listening to Outsider provides. The production here is superb, the sound rich and so, so Nashville. Jackie Bristow may feel, or have felt, herself to be an Outsider in the big USA jungle, but this album puts her firmly on the inside, and if you are looking for where on the inside, it’s just plain in the middle, smack dab in the middle of middle America and middle Americana. That’s an impressive place to be.

Lookin’ For Love opens in a funky, poppy paean to love, and sets the tone. Love or money, Jackie chooses love. This could be pop, but what anchors it to country are the strings: Mark Punch’s twangy guitar and the other Mark, my god it’s Banjo Collins, and indeed right through the album the gentle banjo rhythms of Australian Mark Collins leave you in no doubt that if there’s any pop, it’s just at the edge of country, it’s no way crossover. Vocals of course done here in New Zealand, and this song in particular under the watchful eyes of sound guru Rikki Morris.

Shakin’ My Bones is what hanging round the Joshua Tree does for you; it's one of two songs which reminds us that Jackie has spent as much time in California as Tennessee, although Tennessee, with its opening Hammond flourish and southern horns leaves us in no doubt about the conflict Jackie finds herself in figuring out where home truly lies in these crazy times. Especially as the video for Shakin’ My Bones is made in Central Otago!

Without You, the other of the three songs already released, only serves to emphasise the tyranny of distance which Covid has created. This is a truly beautiful song, but of course there’s more. Songs of alienation, of separation, of oneness with nature, of spirituality. Simple sentiments delivered seamlessly and smoothly. This album is visceral as opposed to cerebral. No need to think, just settle back and relax, glass of wine, feet up, go with the flow. Sedative for the soul.

If there is a theme it's travel, with all its pleasures and encumbrances, it’s not an Easy Road. It’s the loneliness of the long-distance troubadour, not sure where home is, but just find it. Find my Rocking Chair, let me Surrender, it’s Never Too Late.

What else can I say? Oh, almost forgot… the voice…The voice…once you hear Jackie Bristow sing live, a shiver massages your spine and sooths your ruffled self. Subtle power, sensitive soul, sultry sound, sensational singing. And as I listen to the studio Jackie, with all the velvet of a Nashville studio sound, all the embellishments of the world’s best tribe of sessional musicians, I can only imagine the American audience soaking this up in a live arena and going crazy, as only an American audience can.

Go Jackie, get back over there, this record opens the door, go inside, tour this album, your triumph of arrival is beckoning (but let’s hear it here first!).

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Jackie Bristow

After signing a production deal with Sydney based label Craving Records, Jackie Bristow set about to record her album Crazy Love with mixer/engineer Helik Hadar (Rufus Wainwright, Madelein Peyroux, Joni Mitchell) and producer/engineer Mark Howard (Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Marianne Faithfull, Sheryl Crow). With an incredible lineup of musicians including Australia's finest guitarist Mark Punch (Renee Geyer) along with international luminaries Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell), Larry Goldings (James Taylor), Tim Pierce (Rod Stewart, Tom Petty), Jay Bellarose (Aimee Mann), Zak Rae (Alanis Morissette) and more, the result has been a tour de force of stunning new material and a fresh new sound.

Jackie Bristow recently secured the support for legendary producer/guitarist/ composer Daniel Lanois on his recent Australian tour of April 2006. The run of shows took place in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

Relocating from New Zealand to Sydney, Australia in 1995, Jackie worked tirelessly for five years, writing songs, recording demos and performing across the city, all the while developing her own voice. A break came when her demo reached Michael Gudinski Management, resulting in a publishing deal with Mushroom Music and a recording contract with Gudinskis Liberation Records.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Jackie Bristow

Releases

Outsider
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Shot Of Gold
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Freedom
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Crazy Love
Year: 2007
Type: Album
Thirsty
Year: 2002
Type: Album

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