Just in terms of sheer quantity -- number of instruments played, miles logged, artists backed up, shows and sessions performed, and songs composed -- Jeff Turmes is remarkable. And then there's the quality of what he does -- the sound, the style, the personality that informs his music.
All this is evidence in his latest release, Five Horses, Four Riders. There's a lot of open space on this record, songs that inhabit a world of dream images, dread, weariness and desire. We hear guitars, banjos, low horns wheezing in some distance, cymbal crashes, half a string quartet. Lover's pleas, laments, songs thrown like shadows.
Songs range from the opener, "Something Must Of Happened", a driving 2-guitar shuffle, to a gorgeous ballad, "Turn Your Heart In My Direction, to a lament, "Weeds Like Us", whose instrumentation is simply banjo, cello, someone keeping time on the side of a dumpster, and Jeff's voice. "Hew To The Roadside" is equally sparse: resonator guitar, percussion, and a bass clarinet and baritone sax wheezing out low notes. The album closes with an instrumental for solo guitar "Iron City", so named because it was composed on a rainy night in a Pittsburgh hotel room. Throughout, Jeff tells tales of devotion and loss in his distinctive voice. Whether you're already a fan of his songwriting or approaching him for the first time, this record will make a strong impression.