CD: 9 Songs, 40:28 Minutes
Styles: “Edgy Blues and Twisted Americana”, Mellow Blues
What better way to describe a work of art than in the artist’s own words? That’s why I put quotes around the description of Tallahassee’s Jim Crozier’s sophomore album. If “edgy blues and twisted Americana” are What You Want, then for his Florida fans, he’s certainly got it. It’s been ten years since his debut, Down to the Village, which is still available on CDBaby. As many musicians, painters, sculptors, and authors know, sometimes it takes a decade to perfect one’s creations. On nine original tracks and one traditional tune (“Saint James Infirmary”), Crozier provides us with low-key blues that are a bit less “edgy” than he’d like them to be. Vocally, he’s no Walter Trout, and as for his musicianship, it has aged well, but aged it has. There’s an odd lack of balance between Jim’s voice and the rest of the instrumentation, which might leave some listeners straining to hear his lyrics. Still, he and his posse get high marks for effort. It takes brass spheres (below the belt) to do what Crozier does and go “Back to Plan A” (reviewed below). Other jobs might put food on the table, but won’t feed one’s soul. Jim has returned to doing what he loves, and is now hosting live blues jam sessions in North Florida.
According to the section of his website labeled “Bio and Other Fiction,” “Jim Crozier is a singer, songwriter, and bassist living and working in the Tallahassee, Florida area. Among the songwriters he admires are Tom Waits, Aaron Neville, Leonard Cohen, Bobby Charles, Rodney Crowell, and Gram Parsons. [He] is now back to music full time after a long career in Government IT. He got his first guitar a year before the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show and picked up the bass soon after. While engaged as the musical director at a summer theater, he wrote some music for an off-Broadway musical, Touch – the original cast album was nominated for a Grammy in 1972. After earning a degree in Music Composition from the FSU School of Music, he continued to live and work in the Tallahassee area, playing bass with many local ensembles including jazz quartets, blues bands, and a classic big band.”
Along with bassist and lead vocalist Crozier are Mike Stone on drums; Brett Gardner on lead guitar; Jeff Drawbaugh on clarinet and soprano sax; TD Giddings on lead guitar; Ben Banks and Chris Skene on guitar; John Babich on piano; Kayla Williams on viola, violin and cello, and Don Austin on violin and viola.
The following song is noteworthy not for its value as a pure blues ballad, but because it’s the story of so many blues artists who’ve followed the same trajectory in life that Crozier has.
Track 04: “Back to Plan A” – A “Plan B” is what all creative artists need, at least if they hope to make a living. Even that doesn’t always go as planned: “Some sorry super loser fired my best friend. That story really made me mad; I won’t pretend. I picked up my ax and headed out to play. I’m not losing my mind; I’m going back to Plan A.” It may not be a traditional blues instrument, but I’m really digging Jeff Drawbaugh’s clarinet here.
Jim Crozier’s got What You Want if it’s mellow, low-key blues from a Florida veteran!