The youthful imagination we all surely experienced at one time or another, where we’d hear sounds on the radio as we travelled down the road that seemed to twist our imagination into romanticized Kerouac-ian adventure, feels as fleeted as our youth. With it was a sense of Americana that seemed to fade into darkness over the decades.
Out of the darkness that became that sense of Americana there is a flicker of light in the form of Colorado-based singer/songwriter Zeb Jenkins. A Man in the alley, or a Gadgie In A Ginnel, Jenkins’s eleven-unapologetic-track release carries a teeth-baring pace somewhere in the gritty ballpark of The Record Company with nods at a style made great by deep-cut tracks the like of John Prine.
Crafting a mix of stomp, slower acoustic, and sliding in a range of electric guitar-driven breaks, Jenkins fully understands he’s not going to win any awards for his sound, but doesn’t pretend to be anything other than who he is, and that’s where he succeeds. Walking a fine line, but not crossing over, “HMYLF” and “Female Problems”, Jenkins, as he puts it “kicks the side door in” to grab your attention. Dishing up a rendition of Parton’s “9 to 5” and Joel’s “Anthony’s Song” (with a Denver, Colorado flare for good measure), Gadgie stretches itself into a space that leaves you focused on the next word and chords, while curing the edge of your lips as you become enveloped in the world of Zeb Jenkins. Ultimately laying out the kind of music that can be a modern drinking song without the need for politically polarizing red hats and big trucks the syncopated bourbon soaked wanderer Americana sound is one that can pop you on the jaw, then wrap its arm around you and offer to buy the next round. However when push comes to shove, Jenkins makes no qualms at voicing political positions. The sustaining characteristic of Gadgie In A Ginnel is a sensibility that seems so foreign in today’s polarized landscape.
The flickering flame of Americana burning in Gadgie In A Ginnel is a raw sensibility that is just too hard to find these days. Where one may argue Jenkins voice, his music more than makes up in lyric. Where one may argue a simplicity, the fresh pacing and changes more than compensate. In all, Gadgie In A Ginnel is a fine introduction into the Americana stylings of the Man in the Alley.
Greg is a co-founder and regular contributor of Nanobot Rock. He had to Google “Ginnel”