The Modern Lives Vol. 1

The Modern Lives Vol. 1

Artist: Jackie Greene

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Format: CD
Label: BLUE ROSE MUSIC
Genre: Rock/Pop
Rel. Date: 10/13/2017
UPC: 654436073925

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Hailed as "the Prince of Americana" by the New York Times, Greene has always had a knack for capturing the human experience in all its messy, emotional complexity, and on his new EP, 'The Modern Lives – Vol 1,' he draws inspiration from some of the great social paradoxes of our 21st century world: that the technology designed to simplify our lives can actually complicate them in ways we'd never imagined, that the most crowded cities can actually be the loneliest places to live, that the constructs meant to connect us to each other can actually leave us feeling more isolated than ever. While Greene's songwriting chops were more than enough to place him in a league of his own (NPR's World Café raved that his "sound seems at once achingly intimate, surprisingly energetic and unburdened by adherence to genre"), Greene also emerged as a singular singer and guitarist, prompting Rolling Stone to praise his "honeyed tenor" and name him among "the most notable guitarists from the next generation of six-string legends." Between studio albums and his own tours, Greene took up prestigious gigs playing with Phil Lesh & Friends, The Black Crowes, Levon Helm, and Trigger Hippy, his supergroup with Joan Osborne. 'The Modern Lives – Vol 1' may tip its cap to some of Greene's heroes and colleagues, but the sound is 100% his own. Recorded entirely by Greene in a Brooklyn basement, the collection finds him playing every single instrument and serving as both his own engineer and producer. The EP also marks Greene's first release as part of his new partnership with Blue Rose Music, the record label and multimedia company founded by media and tech veteran Joe Poletto. Released from the shackles of traditional music business models, Greene was free to follow his muse in the basement. There, he found that the physical limitations of the space were actually inspiring rather than prohibitive, as they forced him to get more creative than ever with his arrangements and to learn to let go in the quest for sonic perfection. It's a distinctly New York metaphor, and Greene wastes no time in getting to the point on the EP as he grapples with the close quarters and hectic pace of life in his new hometown. The collection opens with the rollicking, funky Americana of the title track, which finds him singing, "Your Times Square looks like a graveyard / I've got a billboard for my headstone and a car horn for my eulogy." On "The Captain's Daughter," he reflects, "I could sleep here on the stair / Who would notice, who would care?" Throughout the album, Greene's storytelling offers its own brand of philosophy, one that resists the urge to find easy answers. On "Back Of My Mind," for instance, he crafts a wistful ode to a simpler kind of life, but rather than waxing nostalgic for days gone by, he questions the veracity—even the usefulness—of memory, suggesting that fiction may cloud fact when it comes to looking backwards. Forward momentum, it seems, is the key to survival in our modern world. The banjo-and-dobro blues of "Tupelo" warns of the devils lurking in our past should we dare return from whence we came, while a gritty, distorted cover of Willie Dixon's "Good Advice" concludes that "you keep on going if you're sure you're right." By the time we hit EP closer "Alabama Queen," we find that true freedom in this modern world ultimately belongs to the freaks and weirdos, those unburdened by the expectations and weight of society, those willing to follow their muse in pursuit of their own kind of happiness. If the open road's got him longing for the dark, noisy confines of a Brooklyn basement, perhaps modern life has finally turned Jackie Greene into a New Yorker, after all.