Record Review - 1 August 14 2002

Jason and the Scorchers’ explosive sonic recipe relied as much on the plaintive lyricism of frontman Jason Ringenberg as it did on the guitar-based theatrics of his colorful bandmates. And Ringenberg’s 2000 solo album, A Pocket Full of Soul, dramatically demonstrated that Jason could scorch — albeit quietly — all by his high-lonesome.

Pocket’s follow-up, All Over Creation, assembles a new series of Scorchers — a rotating rogues gallery of sorts — for a dozen memorable duets. Todd Snider’s road-weary voice steers the horn-driven “James Dean’s Car.” Nashville darlings BR5-49 provide spot-on backup work on a cheerful reading of the Loretta Lynn classic “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’.” And Lambchop serves as sweetly subdued support on “Erin’s Seed,” a stirring ballad about the Irish immigrants who fought at Fredericksburg.

Creation’s only misfire here is the Hammell On Trial collaboration “Honky Tonk Maniac From Mars,” precisely the sort of goofy novelty number Ringenberg has always avoided. But this foolishness is counterbalanced by “Camille,” the CD’s most warmly personal composition. Written for Ringenberg’s baby daughter, the track was recorded with Swan Dive, whose backing vocals impart a magically ethereal shimmer.

But Creation’s most impressive track is the old Scorchers tune “Bible and a Gun,” re-worked as a Civil War saga (“There’s a full moon out tonight, and it’s shining down on me/And in that purest light, the slaves are still not free”). Featuring a brief, heart-wrenching guest appearance by co-writer Steve Earle, “Gun” burns with a broken, battle-scarred intensity that is, in its own way, as searing than the hottest flames ever ignited by the Scorchers.Jason Ringenberg plays the Star Bar Sat., Aug. 17.