Germany's Jack Beauregard a welcome change of pace
"The Magazines You Read"
Jack Beauregard is a band based around the Berlin-based songwriting duo of guitarist/singer Daniel Schaub and programmer Pär Lammers. (Yep, no one in the group is named Jack or Beauregard). Better known in Europe as award-winning songwriters for the likes of platinum selling German pop chanteuse Lena Meyer-Landruth, this is their second release as Jack Beauregard.
If the opening "You Drew Yourself a Line" were the disc's only track, it would still be worth whatever CDs cost these days. It's a gorgeous, swooning song about love lost that you'll find yourself playing over and over.
Schaub's warm falsetto and strong melodies are the perfect compliment (and foil) to Lammers' rich textures and beats. As with all great records, it all comes down first to the writing and second to the singing, and I have no doubt these songs would be just as compelling in a solo setting.
While some of the drum sounds on "You or My Guitar" may recall '80s pop, the song easily eclipses categorization. "Lullaby," driven by keyboard pads and arpeggios and an acoustic guitar, sounds exactly like its title. Ditto with "Tremors."
If, like me, you've grown weary of the glut of bands, both in the U.S. and abroad, who are "adventurously" plundering American string music, this will be a welcome change of pace.
Vocalist/percussionist Mark Davis initially recorded this as an educational tool for his music classes. He chose songs that connected with his students, and then added touches of music he heard while studying in Ghana in the mid-2000s.
In addition to teaching music at Elk Elementary Center, Davis is well known about town as the Voodoo Katz frontman, a member of the a capella group Bare Bones and drummer for the Bark-o-Loungers.
The 14 tracks here include familiar sing-alongs like "Day-O," "Kingston Market" and "Jamaica Farewell," all penned by famed Calypso writer Irwin Burgie. Along the way, Davis is joined by Katz bandmates Deron Sodaro on keyboards and bass and singer Karen Collison.
In addition, Brandon Willard's steel drums adds a measure of warmth and authenticity throughout. (Willard studied with WVU's steel drum pioneer and W.Va. Music Hall of Fame Spirit Award recipient Ellie Mannette).
Some of the most effective tracks are the rhythmic, percussion-and-vocal "Water Come a Me Eye," the call-and-response "Missa Ram Goat," the full band "Colon Man" (which adds Katz guitarist Andy Park) and the gentle, swaying take on "Michael Row the Boat." "Banyan Tree Waltz" adds fiddler Jake Krack. Spicing up the mix are intriguing snippets of African percussion and street music Davis recorded in Ghana.
Oh, and the packaging includes nice artwork by Vasilia Scouras and design by Jeff Pierson.