JD McPherson is set to return with his new album Undivided Heart & Soul. As an artist that has clearly set his stall out in traditional Rock n Roll/Blues, this album attempts to cement that sound whilst at the same time showcasing a softer soulful side to his songwriting. Opening track ‘Desperate Love’ starts with a blast of sound to continue his no holds barred rock and roll style. In an age where authenticity is key, JD McPherson has never had any problems conveying his sound with a freshness and authority.
This album continues his short no-nonsense style with most tracks finishing around the three-minute mark. His authentic is still deeply embedded in the recording processes of the past. In fact, the eleven song set was produced by McPherson and Dan Molad and was recorded at the historic RCA Studio B in Nashville. Undivided Heart & Soul is McPherson’s first studio album in three years and follows his critically acclaimed 'Let the Good Times Roll'.
The lead single ‘Lucky Penny’ is another rip-snorting, unapologetic blast from the past. However, as with all his outputs, he has the ability to bring a freshness and modern twist to these sounds. It immediately grabs the ears and it’s obvious why it was chosen to showcase the new album. With his avalanche of slick blues-based guitar and heavy backing from a superb band, it’s a catchy little number at the very least.
As if to demonstrate his range, ‘Hunting for Sugar’ is a slower soul based tune. Once again his style and sound are drenched in the cornerstones of blues and soul. Yet he maintains a fresh sound full of southern heritage in his new found home in Nashville. McPherson has stated that the move allowed a freedom in his songwriting. He began to experiment, exploring personal themes and injecting more of himself into his work. However, it wasn’t without hesitation and embarking on a new process was no easy task. As McPherson explains:
“I was having nightmares every night, thinking, Wow, they’re going to hate this.”
This new approach to his songwriting was a joint effort with his wife, who co-wrote the album. ‘Bloodhound Rock’ is a sexy track dripping with a wonderful Hammond organ sound. JD accompanies on guitar and vocals and is an absolute foot stomper. With the album now picking up the pace it’s the perfect place for the best track. ‘Style (Is a Losing Game)’ is a slick stylised modern version of what modern blues and rock and roll should sound like. McPherson is the perfect embodiment of this and this track is the perfect example of what he has and will accomplish in the future. With its sunken, slightly distorted vocals, the off-beat syncopation and beautifully balanced guitar riffs, it brings together all the elements that have projected JD McPherson to stardom. Even Rolling Stone has noted him for being able to produce “timeless, forward-thinking rock & roll.” This theme is continued until the end of the album with tracks like ‘Under the Spell of City Light’ and ‘Let’s Get out of Here While We’re Young’ which conveys his ability to craft sleek, sexy, modern and relevant rock n roll. Long may he continue to do so.