- By Simon Luedtke -
Just two years after the critically acclaimed release of Let The Good Times Roll (2015), JD McPherson has returned with another full length project, UNDIVIDED HEART & SOUL. Released October 6, 2017, this is the third album McPherson has recorded as a solo act. He previously was involved in The Poison Okies and The Starkweather Boys; rockabilly groups of the mid-2000s. UNDIVIDED HEART & SOUL, similar to McPherson’s other work, feels like a record plucked from the history books of early American rock and roll. From sweet, sorrowful love songs to raucous, hard-hitting grooves, this is truly a project for the American everyman.
Roots in Rock
JD McPherson grew up in rural Oklahoma on his family’s cattle ranch, miles away from the nearest city. With minimal surroundings, he opted to use isolation in his favor, doubling down on guitar at a young age. During these early years McPherson found a special liking for 50s rock and roll, along with its neighboring styles or rockabilly, blues and traditional country. By 16, he was playing in local bands, exploring a plethora of developing genres like punk and hip- hop. After teaching for a number of years, he took to the music scene as a professional. He has been turning heads with his modern take on old school rock ever since.
An Album of Influences
Such a rich background makes McPherson a powerhouse in his own right. He seems to create music with a deep knowledge and understanding of the origins of rock and roll. UNDIVIDED HEART & SOUL is commanded by his vocal energy, especially in tracks like “LUCKY PENNY.” This popular track leaves a certain mischievous outlaw impression, reminiscent of George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone.” McPherson’s blues influence is noticeable here, with an underlying piano aggressively driving the beat long. The album is certainly one to listen to sequentially, as it seamlessly glides between its various tones. “JUBILEE” brings an unexpected, but undeniably authentic vulnerability near the end of the project. It serves as an excellent winding down for the album’s final ‘act’, with the following two tracks bringing more personal and romantic lyrics to the mix.
UNDIVIDED HEART & SOUL was released by New West Records. The label also represents such blues-rock and alt-rock artists as Drive-by Truckers, All Them Witches and Ben Folds. This is the first of McPherson’s projects released in association with New West.
Cultivating a Lasting Legacy
McPherson’s presence in the world of rock is an important one, and his ability to maintain quality and originality is shocking. To date, all of his work has reflected a laudable degree of authenticity that continues to develop. Being a bona fide student of rock, his music also seems to take inspiration from his contemporaries. The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach is one name in particular that UNDIVIDED HEART & SOUL’s tunes bring to mind. The two collaborated on McPherson’s 2015 track “Bridgebuilder.” In the wake of its release, UNDIVIDED HEART & SOUL has clearly made an impact on the rock scene. It is a must listen for any fan of rock’s humble roots.