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Jason Heath and the Greedy Souls

Air Date: 08-29-15

Jason Heath And The Greedy Souls are back with their new album, and first release for Wayne Kramer’s Industrial Amusement label, A Season Undone. From its anthemic title track, the message is clear “...sometimes you have to tear things down to build them back up.” Says Heath, “Sometimes you have to almost destroy yourself to find redemption.” There is harsh reality, but there is also hope. “Searching for the pieces of your heart...” is a long, hard road, but you just might find them all, and put them back together again.

A Season Undone builds on the same foundation of fiery roots rock heard on their previous albums, which prompted Paste Magazine to call their first record, A Vain Hope Of Horse, “A wonderful debut: ragged,
soulful, and well written.” Rock journalist Dave Marsh said of their second disc, Packed For Exile, “Jason Heath and The Greedy Souls speak to the heartache and joy in the world, with the wisdom not to try to separate them, and the skill to make all of it beautiful.” High praise, indeed. Their music has attracted such heavy hitters as Tom Morello (The Nightwatchman/Rage Against The Machine), Wayne Kramer (The MC5), and Nels Cline (Wilco) to make guest appearances on their albums and at their live show. Heath and his fellow Greedy Souls always return the favors, both musically and by participating in their charity events with them.

Of course, the medicine in this band’s wisdom is delivered with the heart-pounding, sweet sugar of loud rock and roll. You hear “Turn On (The Radio)” and you’re blazing down the road, feeling rebellious, on a highway to a hell of a good time with your partners in crime. But that good time might be a rabblerousing Union port closing, the local jail, or a show for the Midnight Mission on Skid Row. Because as the famed anarchist Emma Goldman memorably said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”  Well, Jason Heath and The Greedy Souls are making damn sure you can dance to it.

While you're dancing to it (because you can’t help it), however, be sure to listen to the lyrics. In almost every track on this album, you can hear a rally cry, a call to action. “We Came To Work” bellows ... “Tell me can you see the writing on the wall, is there anyone among us who can hear that silence call, the pressure’s building at the bottom of the sea, I feel that spirit movin’ deep inside of me ...We came to work to shine a light.” Yes! That inspiration is delivered with wild accordion from Jason Federici (son of the late Danny Federici, longtime organ/accordionist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street band), standout keys from Chris Joyner (Ray Lamontagne, Tom Morello, Amos Lee), blistering guitars from Justin Salmons, and those words sung with gusto by Mr. Heath for a song that could define a genre called “Saloon Rock.” There is a fury to it, and a knowledge that you can never give up. No matter what.

The players on the album all deliver spirited performances. Rounding out the aforementioned band members
are drummers Abraham Etz and Casey Johnson, Jose Esquivel and Will Mack on bass, haunting lap steel by Tobin Dale, and lush violin by Ysanne Spevack (Smashing Pumpkins, Elton John, David J). Soulful, soaring background vocals by Farayi Dominique and Laura Key elevate several of the tracks, recalling a tent revival or a Sunday service in Harlem. The playing is tight as can be, and it’s clear that this album is an all-out labor of love.

Love is evident throughout, in fact. Lost love, brotherly love, love of country, lovers loving ... and losing ... and loving again. In “So Far From Grace,” Heath sings, “This might be the hardest thing that I ever do/To admit that I’m a man who can’t face his dreams coming true.” That is heavy, that is truth, that is something your mind can chew on, as all the very best music feeds you.

“Everything But A Man” recalls Dylan, so good are its lyrics. It reminded me of a time Heath and I were volunteering at PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) in downtown Los Angeles and a man said to me that the hardest part of being homeless was that people don’t look him in the eye. When Heath sings, “I’m tired of bein’ treated like everything but a man,” I thought of that guy. And Heath is singing it both for that guy, and for us to remember those like him. Even while rocking. Especially while rocking. 

There’s a ballad for a lady, called “Sophia,” so lovely that I sure hope the real Sophia hears it and loves it as much as I do. “Armageddon Town” and “The Secret Fire” both showcase The Greedy Souls’ creative instrumentation... while the lyrics hint at something sinister just below the surface. “All The Fighters” and “Evolution Now” take you right back out to the streets to join the struggles, battle cries with banjos, that remind you that through everything, “Your enemy is still your brother.” This band lives that off-stage all day, serving their brothers and sisters through wonderful organizations like The Midnight Mission, Jail Guitar Doors, and The Danny Fund (named for Federici’s father, Danny Federici, who passed away from melanoma).

The cover photo for A Season Undone was taken by Federici while on tour, during a jawdropping, tornado-spawning storm in the heart of the country. It beautifully illustrates that same message of its title ... like after a forest fire destroys everything, its minerals create new growth. Life persists. Stars die, stardust always remains. No energy ever really dies. Egos must be destroyed to truly live again. Lightning strikes the Tree Of Life, and causes it to thrive in another season. Undone.

The title track sums it all up beautifully, when Heath sings, “Darkness has grown but we’re never alone, together we are the light.” I think that’s exactly what we all need to hear right now in this crazy world, and when that same song ends with, “Our souls are shining brighter than the sun,” I can only agree. Jason Heath And The Greedy Souls have never shined brighter. A Season Undone is available September 11, 2015 everywhere. Listen. Enjoy. Rock. Act.

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