Jason Blum - Radio Dial
Record Label: Bitchen Records
Release Date: March 26, 2013
10 songs, 32 minutes. This is how it should always be.
Radio Dial, the brand new album from Texas-by-way-of-New York singer-songwriter Jason Blum is a sturdy and confident collection of ten prairie anthems.
Album opener "Josephine" features a laid back groove that feels definitely Manhattan-esque. Think Everlast channeling Joseph Arthur. There's a nice use of synths and the entire thing is airy and warm. While it is far from inviting, it is Blum's way of reminding his audience that he is indeed now a New York resident. "Thinkin' Bout You" is another midtempo effort with a towering blue-eyed soul croon, jazzy romanticism and rising horns.
A rollicking piano helps make this lounge effort that much more memorable. "Love is a Blind Thing" is arguably more upbeat than anything so far and is indubitably a heartland rocker in the vein of John Mellancamp and Tom Petty. The title track is a slow-moving, dusty affair that once again has shades of Petty. While the intentions are good and its obvious what Blum is chasing after, "Radio Dial" never quite gets there. A native Texan, "Las Estrelles" is a nod to Blum's home state. Sung in Spanish, there is little about "Las Estrelles" that isn't gorgeous.
The back half of Radio Dial opens with the weed-toting rollick of "Barcelona," a carefree, organ-drenched valentine that features swiveling guitars and arguably Blum's most sturdy vocal. "New Mexico Sunset" features the vocals of Betty Black and is a dark and haunting affair that is equal parts dusty, whiskey-soaked and languorous. "I Know Evil" is punchy and thick with Texas heat. A veritable firecracker the song feature searing guitar work and some of the rhythm's section's most inspired playing. "Dude Borracon" is anchored by harmonica and has a hollowed out vibe that calls to mind David Lowery of Cracker. The disc closes with "Blooming in the Sun" featuring the timeless vocals of Kat Edmonson. To call the song tremendous is probably selling it short. If Blum can hang his hat on anything, then it is most assuredly "Blooming in the Sun."
Even with its flaws (the genre-hopping for one), Radio Dial points towards something promising. That in and of itself should be championed. Even when he stumbles, Blum is still finding ways to keep us hanging on. And that is a boast very few of his contemporaries can lay claim to.