As many of you already know, my musical tastes are wide-ranging. Pop and rock, classical (the occasional opera aria), a smattering of jazz, a dash of musical theater. As a kid growing up in the Sixties, I’ve got roots in the great folk revival, British Invasion rock, Hendrix, Miles, Joni Mitchell, and the gridlock of acoustic singer-songwriters that followed. Like I said, eclectic. But if there’s one common trait that perks up my ears it's melody. It’s what I listen for first, foremost and finally. The spice of a great beat, an insistent groove or creative rhythm is cool enough, but hook me with a terrific melodic line and I’m there. Curmudgeonly truth be told, I don’t hear enough melody in much of today’s contemporary music. Production and editing is to a large degree trumping the sheer tunefulness that for me should be front and center in the songwriting world.
And this is where I give a well deserved call out to a singer songwriter of no small talent. Lock My Feelings In A Jar is a twelve-track collection of original material by Jeff Alan Ross; a project he produced and is self-distributing on the web. (No stranger to the industry Ross is currently the musical director for the newly reunited ‘60’s duo Peter & Gordon. He sits in with Gerry and the Pacemakers of "Ferry Cross the Mersey" fame when they tour North America and has played in the reconstituted Brit band, Badfinger) In the interests of full disclosure I’ve known Ross as a friend and admired his talent for years. And like the majority of musicians who’ve felt the very ground beneath their feet shifting amidst recording industry turmoil he’s had his share of challenges getting his music out there. A brilliant vocalist, and a gifted musician and multi-instrumentalist Lock My Feelings In A Jar is unapologetically anchored in the musical terrain of the 60s–the ballads, the up-tempo pop, an Irish-folk sing-along all offer the sort of contemporary-retro comfort food that is subconsciously familiar notwithstanding each song's obvious originality. Modest and without pretension the songs shine with optimism and heartfelt sentiment. Whether singing about the mundane or the mystical you can hear nods to Ross’ musical influences–a piano intro a la Elton John’s Captain Fantastic period, a duet accompaniment that channels Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up” (sung with Kate Bush), and of course the ever-present inspiration of the Beatles–a hint of Revolver is always appreciated in my book. Ross is an avid student of the Fab Four and like me you will nod with appreciation at his carefully crafted and concise tunes, luminously orchestrated harmonies and his pitch-perfect lead vocals that somehow arrive at the sonic intersection of Lennon and McCartney. Available as a CD or download at his website www.jeffalanross.com. Check it out.