When In Rome kicks off Jesh Yancey’s EP. As an opening statement it’s pretty direct. Is there such a genre as ‘stoner country’? If not, it’s possible that Jesh has invented it! Warm and woozy in the way that a bottle of firewater shared around a campfire on a cold night might be, we are treated to some tropes that are familiar and some that aren’t. What sounds like a melodica makes an unexpected appearance, where you might have expected a traditional-sounding squeezebox, and there are some quite discordant, bluesy melodic choices made by the vocals. But then, maybe it’s the drugs. See what I did there?
I’ve no idea if this EP has been recorded live, but it sounds like it may have been. The count in to the opening track and the throw away comment at the top of Ridin’ High (‘Don’t judge a book’) makes it sound like it was. The flurry of shuffling drums, bold and brilliant up-front guitar picking, fluttering harmonica and female harmony vocals are filled with the right kind of energy to back up the theory, too.
In A Pinch appears to take a few risks lyrically, but then we hear that, ‘Well, I got a really good excuse / For nearly everything’. It’s certainly true that it’s a highly reasoned and intelligent approach to the material that permeates all of the songs on Maybe It’s The Drugs.
Sonically, there is plenty going on. Upright bass features heavily on My Little Soul and Me. I’m put in mind of the confessional nature of House of the Rising Sun because of the vocal treatment and delivery – a country version, though.
The title track is different again, and my favourite here. Confessional (and live-sounding) again, and featuring some big harmony vocals driving the message home.
Stoner country. There, I called it. Check it out!