Friday, November 4, 2016

Music Review - Jerry Gaskill - Love and Scars

An excellent album that deserves more of my time. Kudos, Jerry!

For the past few decades Jerry Gaskill has beat the skins for King’s X, a relatively unknown but highly influential power trio. While the other two members have added a string of side projects and solo albums to their work as a band, Jerry has released only a single solo album. Until now.

While Gaskill’s first album, Come Somewhere, sounded like it had been written on an acoustic guitar and later rocked up, Love and Scars is a full-on melodic hard rock onslaught. The modern sound is largely due to guitarist/songwriter/producer DA Karkos, plus friends like Andee Blacksugar, Billy Sheehan and Phil Keaggy. But as they say back on the farm, if you slap lipstick on pig and put it in a fancy sequined dress, you might have a date for Saturday but it’s still a pig. To that end, all the deluxe sonic treatments won’t do anything to make a poorly written song enjoyable. Thankfully as a co-writer for many classic King’s X tunes, Jerry excels at creating great songs and this time it’s obvious that his guitar was plugged in when he wrote them.

And thankfully for King’s X fans, Jerry solo sounds a lot like King’s X. Surprise! I’m sure it helps that the guitarists “borrow” Ty Tabor’s signature guitar sound and style but since it’s been awhile since a proper King’s X album, I’m not complaining. I mean, can you really rip off your own band? As a confirmed Beatles fan, Jerry also uses vocal harmonies to flesh out his rich melodies. Instead of going through song by song I’ll just say that there are grinding mid-tempo rockers, lighter songs filled with dreamy guitars and even a playful “live” song at the end. In short, it’s got everything a rocker could want.

Always one to write some way-out lyrics that leave the listener scratching their head (“Six Broken Soldiers” and “American Cheese” come to mind) Jerry combines poetic mystery with humor and enjoyment out of everyday activities. Just a few examples: “You’re only pretty when your heart beats / Or your lungs breath / After that I just don’t know” (concerning his heart attack), “So Patty cut my hair / We talked about the air” and “You’re so lovely when you’re far away.”

With Love and Scars Jerry Gaskill proves that he’s much more than just an excellent drummer and songwriter. He’s survived two heart attacks plus losing everything to Hurricane Sandy and is still able to kick back, laugh, and enjoy life. Thankfully the songs on this album invite us to sit down and enjoy the humor of life by his side.

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