Having spent most of his time playing lead guitar in various original and cover rock bands, Jeff Larson decided to grab an acoustic one day and head deep into the remote pine barrens. It was there that he composed the body of the material on Leeds Devil Blues. An eclectic offering that includes instrumentals as well as songs with vocals. The album highlights solo finger style guitar as well as band arrangements. Styles range from blues, Celtic, classical, American folk and bluegrass. Other artists that appear on this album are: Dan Carey (drums), Frank Deacon (vocals) and Jersey shore avant-garde music guru, Mad Lee (harmonica)
Music from this album has been used in film and has been featured on several radio programs. The original printing of the album has sold out and now this second printing has become available to the public.
Jeff Larson still resides in the Pine Barrens of Southern NJ where he continues to compose, teach and play guitar.
The following is a review of the album by disc jockey, Tom Gagliardi:
Review: Leeds Devil Blues, by Jeff Larson
Review by Tom Gagliardi
Jeff Larson’s Leeds Devil Blues is a must get for people who wish to have the full effect of the Pine Barrens ambiance. In a fantastic sound document, Larson brings us through the sugar sand roads of his many different musical styles. This disc is a journey so to speak. Leeds Devil Blues opens with the track, “The Forked River Mountains“, a back road upbeat folk track that leads into the beautiful “Island Beach.”
Frank Deacon’s vocals are beautifully subtle and not overbearing. In the track titled, “The Pine Barrens” (one of my favorites), Jeff scurries through chords summing up his mental soundtrack of the Pines. Another similar track is “Gone Fishing“. Jeff turns the corner on the title track and lets loose with Deacon’s strong blues vocals and his own impressive acoustic soloing.
We come back down with the soundtrack-esque, “Life in the Swamp“, Jeff shines on this as well. “Shadow in the Cedars” falls like rain and will remind one of guitarist Gordon Giltrap’s style of playing. Classical influences are prevalent here. In the cover piece, “Lute Suite in E Minor” by J.S. Bach, Jeff shows his classical training and easily glides through one of Bach’s most challenging pieces. That’s why this DJ enjoys this CD; the spontaneity.
Jeff ventures into more song oriented music in the tracks “Song for the Dead” and “The Pact.” The backwoods feeling returns in tracks like “Blue Comet” (in tribute to the ill fated train that once shot through the pines for many years), and “Out in the Plains” which has a beautiful driving melody. The album closes with the hauntingly mesmerizing piece, “Young Catherine.”
In conclusion, this is a disc that will make you feel comfortable. Don’t expect piercing keyboards or crunching guitars or even pop songs for that matter. This is a disc that, as I stated earlier, is a journey. Jeff expresses his soul and his love of the Pines through his playing and arrangements without losing the substance of the music. I think it should, especially, make local listeners proud that a disc like this has come from one of their own. Not to mention, Jeff showcases himself in many different lights that could appeal to fans of any genre. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 2 years Jeff does an instrumental tribute CD to all the lost places in the Pines. It could be a tall order, but there’s no doubting Larson’s versatility or capability. Just as you hit Atsion, or wherever you like to make your starting point in the pines, press play, and enjoy this new companion. Be sure to visit his site at www.jefflarsonmusic.com
Tom Gagliardi is the host of The Gagliarchives featuring the best in Progressive Rock, on Z88.9, Burlington County College Radio. He can be heard every Saturday from 10pm to 2am on 88.9 and 95.1 FM, or streaming live over the internet at Aural Moon.