Jamie Block is a New York-based singer-songwriter known for eclectic, critically acclaimed, genre-bending folk music.
In 1996, Block self-released Lead Me Not Into Penn Station. According to the Alternative Press, Block “practices the alchemy of melodious discord: pretty enough to draw you in, rough enough to keep you listening.” Block soon booked tours opening for The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Bob Mould, and They Might Be Giants.
In 1998, Glen Ballard (who’d just produced Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill) signed Block as the first artist to his Capitol imprint Java Records, and released Block’s next album, Timing is Everything, that year. Time Outproclaimed the work “stellar,” and the Boston Globe called it “tight, important and indeed well-timed.”
The next year, Block took a break from music to begin a family and a less erratic career. During this time, several of his songs appeared on major motion picture soundtracks, including “Rhinoceros” (Blast from the Past), “I Used to Manage PM Dawn” (Clubland), and “Catch a Falling Star” (Never Been Kissed).
His return to recording came a few years later, when WFUV dj Claudia Marshall began regularly spinning his music and demanding on-air that he make a new record. This led toThe Last Single Guy, released in 2006. Allmusic.com described it this way: “like a bedside book, this album can be played in one sitting, but so much better to dip in and out of it over time, letting one’s mood determine one’s favorites for the day.” It also appeared on Ms. Marshall’s “Best of the Year” list.
Block’s latest release, 2012’s Whitecaps On The Hudson, presents a new group of songs in loose, organic attire. Call it “antifolk” or “steampunk” or “folkcore”: pure-of-heart love songs intermingle with unabashed pop melodies and churning spoken-word inventions.
Producer/engineer Dean Sharenow brought in a world-class band to help realize the songs, including Erik Della Penna (Natalie Merchant, Joan Baez) on guitars, Mick Rossi (Paul Simon, Phillip Glass) on keyboards, and Byron Isaacs (Olabelle) and Jeff Hill (Rufus Wainwright) sharing the bass duties. The album was recorded in two live Brooklyn sessions to maintain the spontaneity and flow of Block’s homespun demos.