The Great Book of John - Black Heart
“The Great Book of John is a staggeringly vital record, one that I would hope gets tongues wagging in music critic circles when it comes time to select the best records of the year.”
— Zachary Houle (Pop Matters)
The Great Book of John is a Birmingham, Alabama original who have been firmly rooted in their city’s scene and the music community at large for many years now. They approach 2013 with the release of a new album which plays spotlight to their continuous evolution as a band. There music is eminently lyrical – recalling Jeff Buckley’s psychedelic soul, Leonard Cohen’s poetic (and lacerating) wordplay, and fiery fretwork influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughn and David Gilmour as much as it is by Radiohead. Those may seem like big names to drop, but this is big music – emotional, filmic, but never pandering. Led by Taylor Shaw, from whom the songs almost ceaselessly flow, The Great Book of John is very much a band – and a formidable one at that. Independently involved in music since their childhoods they have also worked together on projects in the past (including Birmingham’s late great Wild Sweet Orange). With vocalist Bekah Fox, bassist Alex Mitchell, and drummer Chip Kilpatrick they can conjure the sublime in any setting – with or without electricity.
The band’s debut album, Yves’ Blues, was a largely acoustic affair recorded in one long session. There second full length, The Great Book of John, was a deeply-layered production brimming with amplified crunch and a thick, somnambulant atmosphere, provided in part by musician / producer Jeffery Cain (Remy Zero, Sanders Bohlke, Dead Snares) and Grammy Award winning engineer Darrell Thorp (Radiohead, Beck, Outkast).
This years yet-to-be-released work boasts of the bands ability to lay it all down with all that they have. They were recorded by the great Paul Logus (Jimmy Page, P Diddy, Public Enemy) at Premiere Studios in Manhattan, during a 14 hour live session. Each song renders a feeling of dependence the members have developed on one another. Though the essence of the songs and sheer energy are reminiscent of the deep layering’s from the last album, this album showcases the raw qualities that can best be captured when a band is recorded live. It is in these tracks the listener can experience what The Great Book of John brings to every live performance which often has new comers leaving as dedicated fans.
A single from the album, “Dark Star”, is available on iTunes. It is truly a glimpse into the direction this band is journeying. A small taste of what will come out later this year. It is heavy music, seemingly unbearable, but laden with hope.