J Shogren | American Holly

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Country: Americana Blues: Work Songs Moods: Mood: Quirky
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American Holly

by J Shogren

Pulp Americana. Music for your inner grifter
Genre: Country: Americana
Release Date: 

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1. American Holly
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4:51 $0.99
2. Early in the Evening
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3:48 $0.99
3. Everyman
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3:03 $0.99
4. Salt Lakrits
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2:00 $0.99
5. Hand Grenade
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1:55 $0.99
6. Holes
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3:49 $0.99
7. Deny Me
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2:51 $0.99
8. French Creek
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3:21 $0.99
9. Well-fed Man
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5:10 $0.99
10. Spilt Whiskey
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3:30 $0.99
11. Relativity
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2:39 $0.99
12. She's With Me
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4:21 $0.99
13. Baby On the Tracks
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1:05 $0.99
14. God's 9:05
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3:09 $0.99
15. Jj Polka
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2:22 $0.99
16. Hardwood Floor
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3:40 $0.99
17. Come All This Way
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2:43 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
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
http://oliverdiplace.blogspot.com/2009/02/j-shogren-american-holly.html

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♣


Reviews


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Oliver di Place Blog

wild imagination
I don’t usually quote from press sheets in my reviews, but consider the following, about J Shogren:

“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.”

Now, one possibility is that somebody is pulling our leg here. This story is audacious, if so, and demonstrates a wild imagination. On the other hand, what if it’s all true? To live such a life would require a different kind of wild imagination.

Whatever the case, on the evidence of Shogren’s album American Holly, I can confirm the wild imagination. This is a mostly acoustic affair, but the arrangements include jug, euphonium, trombone, resonator, and accordion on various tracks. The lyrics of Relativity link the battle of the sexes to a famous scientific theory. And Hand Grenade is a dead-on spoof of the songs kids are made to sing in bible camps.

The overall sound of the music tends to confirm the part in Shogren’s bio that states that he used to be a trapper. This sounds like music made by a man who lived for some time in a cabin in the Wyoming mountains, cut off from society and from a radio, with only a boombox, a stack of folk and acoustic blues CDs with some Southern gospel and old-time country thrown in, a stack of batteries, and an acoustic guitar for company.

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. He also sounds like a gruffer version of Randy Newman.

Most of the time, Shogren’s guitar plating does not call attention to itself; rather, it serves the song, playing only what is needed. But, when you do notice it, you find that Shogren can really play. I have included She’s With Me in this post, because it includes some of those moments which display Shogren’s prowess.

I talked about the wild imagination on display in some of the lyrics. The finest example of this is God’s 9:05, in which John Henry and Casey Jones meet the devil. This one gets added to my list of great train songs.

I do have a couple of quibbles. The title track American Holly opens the album, and is kind of a drone. The vocal melody is the least interesting one on display here. And, as much as I love Hand Grenade, the song does not fit in with the rest of the album.

I have provided a purchase link to get the album from CDBaby. You can also name your price, and obtain individual tracks on J Shogren’s website. Whatever you choose, make sure that J Shogren gets paid. No matter what else he does with his time, I want him to be encouraged to make more of this wonderful music.

Linda

A fantastic album
I loved J Shogren’s first album, Jahamericana, so expectations were high on the follow-up album. Even so, American Holly easily exceeds my expectations. Each song has its own special character and message, making this an album of extraordinary width in music and lyrics. J Shogren’s lyrics are intriguing and unpredictable, accentuated by Shogren’s wonderful voice. The music ranges from soft and melodic to highly intense. Personal favourites include American Holly, Early in the evening, Hand grenade, Holes, Deny me, French Creek, Salt Lakrits, Come all this way… Oh, well, all of them! One of the secrets behind J Shogren’s ability to write and perform such wonderful and intelligent songs surely has to be the almost unbelievable story of his life – from trapper in Minnesota to the Swedish King’s professor. And even though my cd-player is running warm from the latest two albums, I’m already looking forward to coming albums, of which I hope there will be many, many more!

Birgit Burke

congrats
ya dun good.

gracey

American Holly
AMAZING! love it. if you love the complete album, give this a listen from beginning to end. One listen will not be enough. such a nice assembly of musicians here, lots of variety, fun, sad, true,,
it's going to get lots of play at my house. Thanks, J Shogren, for such a nice collection of absolutely beautiful songs. and, btw, thanks Dan Tinker at Thunderground Sound Studio for all you do.