J.J. SCHULTZ – CAROLINA
2012 – Self Released
This is the fourth album by singer songwriter J.J. Schultz and whilst I haven’t heard the previous three this strikes me as being a little different to the work of most other singer songwriters. Certainly there are story songs but most of these eight excellent tales have an incredibly sparse, slow moody feel to them, with just one song that could be considered to have anything of a rock element to it. Whilst he has that singer songwriter tag there is also a folksy countrified feel to much of the album and fortunately his vocal style is well suited to this with an intense, dramatic voice that adds emphasis to the storyline of each song whether slow and moody or rockier. There is also a pleasant warmth to his vocals that helps to draw the listener into his world of lyrical reflections on many of life’s ups and downs, although mainly downs.
All of the songs were written by J.J. Schultz and the album was also self produced. He was assisted musically by Jeff Cotton and Scott Robinson on guitars and backing vocals, Craig Koozer on bass, Manny Bernal on drums and Danny Eisenberg plays Hammond. On the face of it the instrumentation list makes it look as if this could easily be just another roots rock album but the use of these instruments is very well handled to ensure the wide open spaciness of the sound is maintained, with the possible exception of the rocked up Karma Come Early, although in truth this is only around mid tempo; it just seems more musically saturated when compared to what is going on around it.
There are several mini epic songs, with the title track Carolina, being an excellent all round exercise in slow moodiness that builds nice and slowly with acoustic guitar and organ, gradually joined by chiming guitars and a
soaring solo on a sad tale of lost love. Across The Bay is a beautiful, hauntingly atmospheric epic with chiming guitars plus slide guitar and organ, whilst Cleveland is a slow and moody tale with some lovely slide guitar and a little twang on a quite sparse descriptive song about the longing and desperation to get back to his roots.
All in all this is a very good album of moody reflections that makes me think it would be well worth while exploring his back catalogue.