The 10-song set finds Podrasky’s songwriting as impassioned as ever. The title song and tracks like “Empty” and “With This Ring” reveal an even more mature, focused songwriter than the one who the Village Voice earlier celebrated for his “fondness for Dylan and Twain.” And then there’s the back story of the genesis of THE WOULD-BE PLANS.
Say what you will about the bedeviling aspects of Facebook, but its powers of connection are indisputable. A chance posting in 2010 reunited Jimmer and his Pennsylvania childhood pal Ed Sikov, who wound up executive-producing the new album; Sikov is a film historian and the author of books on Peter Sellers, Bette Davis and Billy Wilder.
A lot had happened to Podrasky since he and his band were major-label artists, toasted by critics and featured in Pretty in Pink and Beverly Hills 90210. He had, in no particular order, lost both of his parents, logged time as Shannen Doherty’s fiancé, fathered and raised a son (Chance) with Molly Ringwald’s sister, got laid-off his day job and been forced to live hand-to-mouth, and accidentally endured a hellish weekend trapped in L.A. County’s mental-health system. But another serendipitous connection—with, of all people, former Brady Bunch star Robbie Rist (who played Oliver)—eventually led Podrasky back to the recording studio.
The path led directly to the labor-of-love project that became THE WOULD-BE PLANS once Jimmer connected with former Smash Mouth (and current Dwight Yoakam) drummer Mitch Marine, who became the record’s producer and recruited the supporting players. Among them are Wallflowers organist Rami Jaffee, pedal-steel player Marty Rifkin (Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty) and mixer Dave Leonard (K.D. Lang, Tony Bennett, the Neville Brothers). Recording was done at the Station House in Echo Park and other Los Angeles studios.
Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn’s declaration of Podrasky as a “rare find” whose music centers on “a questioning of contemporary values” resonates throughout THE WOULD-BE PLANS. What’s more, Podrasky’s years away from the music scene (he spent the time raising Chance while working at the William Morris Agency as a script reader and continuing to squirrel away new songs) have added perspective to his observations and heightened the sensitivity of his personal expressions. The songs swing from the country-ish “Satellite” to the effervescent pop of “(She Has) Good Records” and consistently find Podrasky’s iconic, supple voice in top form. The harmonica-fueled folk-rock opening track, “The Far Left Side of You,” has just been serviced to AAA and Americana radio to favorable audience response.
Other highlights on THE WOULD-BE PLANS include the country-inflected “Molotov Moon,” which succinctly captures the essence of romantic tension (“You meet the mornin’ like you’re meetin’ a wall”) and the album-closing “Fall,” a solid rocker enumerating the joy and pain of an affair that didn’t last.
Jimmer’s trademark sardonic humor doesn’t just show up in his music. When he, Sikov and company needed a name for their label, Podrasky didn’t hesitate: Chief Injustice is an oblique reference to Podrasky’s first cousin, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
To launch the release of THE WOULD-BE PLANS, Jimmer Podrasky is set to appear at Lucy’s 51 (located at 10149 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake, CA) on Wednesday, March 5. Billed as “Jimmer and Friends,” he plans to showcase both material from the new album and favorites, backed by a coterie of guest players. He will return on Wednesday, March 19 to inaugurate a series of songwriter tribute nights during which he will perform as well as host.
THE WOULD-BE PLANS is currently available for sale at www.jimmermusic.com with digital distribution as of March 4.
Download: Jimmer Podrasky