Hard acoustic roots music from a life lived in loud proportions. American Holly is the second release from Wyoming’s favorite applied philosopher J Shogren, who made a splash overseas since his first two cds, Jahamericana & American Holly.
His adventures have taken him from days as a trapper to an endowed professor. He splits his time between Wyoming and Sweden, where he worked last year- unlikely as it sounds - as the King’s Professor. Even more riotous, he was a party to the Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the United Nations Team working on climate change. Planet, music.
Shogren is getting press across a wide field:
"Brilliant storyteller from Wyoming. Hard Boiled, sometimes dark humorous stories delivered with a voice that clearly have lived through them." Lennart Persson, Rootsy
"J har blivit lite av en konnässörsfavorit i roots/americanavärlden..." Lira, Swedish Music Magazine.
Translation: J has become a bit of a connoisseur's favorite in the roots/americana world..."
"Blending more styles than we can list here Shogren ... He’s traveled the world and the stories are plentiful in these grooves. At the end of the day though it’s Americana at its best."- Village Records.
Top 20 americana cds in 2008-Rootsville (Belgium)
#13 Feb 09 & #15 Jan 2009 on the EuroAmericana Chart
#16 on F.A.R. Chart for Dec 2008
#41 on the Folk Music Radio Chart for Feb 2009
#150 or so on the Americana Radio charts in Jan/Feb
J. SHOGREN has a voice that’s a bit gravely and rough-hewn. Americana can absorb that if the songs hold up, and on “American Holly” (Jaha!, c/o jshogren.com), they do just that. The opener, the album’s title cut, is obviously meant to be the “single,” but it was the third cut, “Everyman,” that caught my “ear.” As the CD glides along, it really started to reach me. The songs are catchy in a folky singer-songwriter pop kind of way, with melody lines that stay with the listener. There is really nice horn work here, like where they counterpoint with the banjo in “Holes.” Another piece that caught my attention was a sort of revisioning of “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” with the biting “Hand Grenade” (“I’ll be a hand grenade for Jesus / And spread His word like shrapnel”). It is also amusing (or can be seen as such) that a “women is bad” song like “Relativity” is followed by the romantic “She’s With Me.” While many of his songs are poignant, it is his closing number that touched me the most in my life right now, “Come All This Way.” The Quiet Corner by Robert Barry Francos, http://www.jerseybeat.com/quietcorner.html
"Like a garden full of wildflowers...there’s something undeniably endearing about Shogren’s ramshackle ramblings."
Performing Songwriter, Jan 2009
"American Holly is an absolute masterpiece."
Moors Magazine Jan 2009.
"There are two other times I can remember when a singer’s voice prompted in me the same reaction I had when I first heard J Shogren’s. Those were when I first heard Randy Newman and Leon Redbone. I had to keep looking at the album cover to assure myself that the singer was indeed white. Shogren’s voice sounds like one of those great bluesmen from ninety years ago."
Oliver di Place, Feb 2009
American Holly is produced by J Shogren and D Tinker; mastered by J Wilson (Richard Thompson, The Gourds, Joe Ely, Bob Mould); featuring Grammy winner Sally van Meter on resonator, fingerpikkin maniac Jalan Crossland on banjo, the dynamo Shaun Kelly on bass, and country blues chanteuse Birgit Burke on backing vocals.
♣Thanks for giving us a fair hearing♣