Jason Simon – A Venerable Wreck: Album Review

Guitarist from American psych-rockers Dead Meadow, Jason Simon returns to solo endeavours with new album A Venerable Wreck.

Release Date: 22nd May 2020

Label: BYM Records

Formats: DL / LP

Jason Simon has so many guitar tricks up his sleeve you could call him The Dynamo of the Guitar, notwithstanding his songwriting skills. I lost count of the plethora of tones and effects he can accomplish from his stringed instrument expertise during this record.

He enlists the services of  Nate Ryan and Jason Anchodo from The Warlocks on the album who he became associated with 4 years ago whilst working with his own band, Dead Meadow.

Fingerpicking on an electric banjo is used on the folky opener the Same Dream. Then he reverts to soft acoustic with wailing guitar notes, some with tremolo effects in the background, whilst singing a hopeful, plaintive song with a Cohen style melody on See What It Takes. 

Jason then sings drolly through a country-styled Snow Flakes Are Dancing with a gentle wah-wah effect. A JJ Cale foot-tapping style beat and vocal style cuts through on Red Dust but he adds a more fuzzy guitar effect than clear cut fingerpicking as well as punctuating with searing guitar chords.

On Moments of Peace,  a country-styled fuzzy guitar is accompanied by stretched out pedal steel guitar notes. But it’s his skill in combining multiple effects that are the highlight in this ode to our longing for a peaceful way of life. Jupiter, another Cohen-esque styled song, combines acoustic picking and soft wah-wah and luscious tremolo.

From the simplicity of Jupiter, we have the complexity of A Venerable Wreck. A liquid guitar solo, a distorted repeated rhythm, and every now and then, a new effect is layered in, altogether making this a fascinating instrumental adventure.

The bluesy The Old One has echoing vocals prominent amidst the chunky rhythm with accordion sounding keyboards thrown in too. Dreamy and cosmic with the occasional subtle distorted effects dropped in. Doors Won’t Shut Blues bounces along like a Barrett period Floyd song with psychedelic guitar effects crammed in.  No Entrance No Exit and Hollow plod along at a much slower pace but stretched metallic notes add interest after a simple fingerstyle electric/acoustic. Another one that could belong to Syd’s songbook.

Then comes his final trick. Shimmering guitar again with gentle strumming electric guitar and some bluesy organ put into the mix to make this a splendid finale to a fascinating album where you can never pin Jason down to one style.

This highly versatile artist, who has the rare distinction of being unable to categorise, has created an album that has a treasure chest of wonderful surprises both in the massive variety of electronic guitar effects and choosing singing style to suit the song. Repeated listens found me never tiring of any track. A Venerable Wreck will certainly be making my ‘albums of the year’ list.

Listen to The Same Dream here:

Jason Simon / Dead Meadow: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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