Jeff Ray | Last Great Winter

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Blues: Piedmont Blues Blues: Slide Guitar Blues Moods: Type: Improvisational
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Last Great Winter

by Jeff Ray

A blues-influenced tour de force of resonator slide-guitar, Ray weaves the grit of the Mississippi Delta into a tapestry of poetic americana.
Genre: Blues: Piedmont Blues
Release Date: 

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1. Dear Grenadine
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2:42 $0.99
2. Low Wage Mood
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5:34 $0.99
3. Higher Hilltops
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3:50 $0.99
4. This Land Is Your Land
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5. Cindy Sang
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5:32 $0.99
6. Human Hillsides
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5:17 $0.99
7. Valley
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8. Crane
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9. Maggie's Farm
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10. My My My
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Happy Holidays!
For December 2012, JEFF RAY CDs ARE ON SALE FOR 9.99 EACH!

***********

Jeff Ray’s third and most compelling album to date. A blues-influenced tour de force of resonator slide-guitar, Ray weaves the grit of the Mississippi Delta into a tapestry of poetic americana.

Since the release of his rockin’ multi-instrumental 2004 sophomore release, JUNE GENERATION, Ray embarked on a life of touring solo from the Midwest to the South where he found the inspiration for LAST GREAT WINTER. Influenced by the Midwest resonator guitar scene, Ray picked up a National steel guitar and eventually landed opening slots for some of his biggest influences, including Chris Smither. Drawing from those performance experiences, Ray left behind the studio band and found his solo groove on LAST GREAT WINTER. On the album, he weaves his stylistic diversity with unmatched simplicity using only a resonator guitar, his voice, and a stomping foot that blends seamlessly into each song. Jeff reveals with great clarity his unique style that he calls Zen Blues - a style marked by alternate guitar tunings and songs that unsuspectingly shift between thumb-thumping slide-guitar ballads to worldly folk-inspired jams.

Ray even throws in a few surprises, including a bluesy rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” and a catchy version of Woody Guthrie’s timeless anthem “This Land Is Your Land”, one of the most surprising versions ever recorded. Originally a protest song, “This Land Is Your Land” eventually morphed into a childhood sing-along, stripped bare of it’s most controversial verses. But Ray returns this song to its original purpose and gives it new life by altering the melody, changing the rhythm, accentuating the forgotten verses, and even altering the final lines to give new meaning.

Jeff Ray continues to gain recognition as an emerging influence in the acoustic roots music scene. In 2007 and 2008, he will be touring extensively in support of LAST GREAT WINTER.


Reviews


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Susannah Schouweiler (access+Engage, mnartists.org)

deft slide guitar stylings... equally indebted to Ravi Shankar, Nick Drake, and
Singer/songwriter Jeff Ray’s infectious, lyrical new roots record is out! Ray’s honeyed vocals and deft slide guitar stylings offer blues fare more contemplative than gritty, with a vibe that’s equally indebted to Ravi Shankar, Nick Drake, and Greg Brown. Simply lovely. The record’s in heavy rotation here at a+E HQ: listen for yourself before you take in a live show. You’ll not be disappointed.

John Ziegler

Writer, Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, MN)
He calls his style "Zen Blues." With his stompin' left foot, his stinging slide and his National Steel resonator guitar, Jeff Ray creates a style that is equal parts Delta Blues, straight up Americana singer-songwriter and brilliant instrumentalist.
The clarity and precision of Ray's bottleneck playing, as it swoops and dives through his vocal lines, is so well-honed and has such an alluringly liquid quality that it puts him in a league with the best on the planet. Folks such as Ry Cooder, David Lindley and Bob Brozman have nothing on this young virtuoso.
His newest record, "Last Great Winter," is a tour de force that should be required listening for anyone interested in the instrument or the style.
"Dear Grenadine" is an instrumental that blends Merle Travis' alternating bass beneath Leo Kottke-like upper register slides, snapped strings and fretted chordal clusters. It's such an expressive composition that it made me think it might have been born of a marriage between Travis' classic "Freight Train" and Kottke's sensational instrumental "Bean Time."
"Higher Hilltops" has a hushed quality and an elliptical melody that evolves and changes without sounding cobbled together. Ray's voice, when engaged, has a cooler, more detached feel that intertwines, like a strand of DNA, with his impassioned and throatier guitar tones.
Woody Guthrie's immortal "This Land is Your Land" is an album highlight with crystalline slide and a vocal that has just a hint of Woody's son, Arlo, in its timbre. Ray has returned the song to the style the elder Guthrie intended. Over time it has become a cuddly childhood sing-along. Ray restores a couple of verses that have routinely been shucked, including a well-timed one about the welfare office, and gives the song more drive and guts. It's worth the price of the disc to have this version of a song many feel should be our national anthem in your collection.
Ray's brilliance with bell-like harmonics (a la Lenny Breau, Chet Atkins and Tommy Emmanuel) is stunning. His velvet touch on the forefront of "Human Hillsides" shows that he has absorbed the finger-picking wizardry of Pat Donohue and Chris Smither. The tunes tangled melody bends and undulates, feeling like a fast run through the woods on a new trail complete with twists and turns, then makes a dive for the finale like a kamikaze pilot.
Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm" is a stripped-down take on the tune that ushered in Dylan's switch to electricity back at Newport in '65. Ray's cover is much bluesier and clearly his own, which would get Dylan's thumbs-up. It also gives Ray the forum to whip out some great slide licks and let the resonator talk up a storm.
Ray not only tours the country solo but is working with Nick Salisbury (bassist for G.B. Leighton and Mick Sterling) in a group called Jeff Ray & the Stakes. It's an acoustic roots band that regularly adds special guests such as Mikkel Beckmen of the Brass Kings and Harold Tremblay of Cool Disposition.
His dexterity with the slide, his pristine intonation, his delicious sense of melody, and his ability to cover without copying make Jeff Ray someone to discover and "Last Great Winter" a gem worth seeking out. If you're a resonator guitar devotee it's a must-have. If you're not, this disc could make you a convert.

John Cross


I like this album. I really love the sound of a nationl guitar and Jeff knows how to get it to sing. I only wish I could play that well someday. I'll be buying his other albums in the near future.