Jimmy Jax Pinchak – Blue On Arrival
It might seem a bit incongruous to some that a blonde-haired, blue-eyed cherubic looking twenty year old former child actor is one of the most promising talents emerging from the blues genre in a quarter of a century. It’s also true. Jimmy Jax Pinchak has starred in Ender’s Game alongside movie great Harrison Ford as well as appearing on the critically lauded television series Men of a Certain Age, but despite his success in movies, Pinchak’s interests were wider. His debut album Make It Better heralded the arrival of a fiery musical force who embraced the genre’s past while managing to hint at its future. The debut and its successor, the new album Blue on Arrival, certainly embrace the rockier side of the blues music spectrum, but their adherence to the genre’s fundamentals gives it instant credibility. The production is boisterous and in your face from notes one, but tempers itself on the album’s softer and slower numbers focusing on an even handed balance between the different instruments.
Blue on Arrival is neatly divided between three types of blues – hard charging mid tempo songs, slower numbers, and acoustic based tracks. The album opens with the two songs of the first variety. “Murder” covers familiar lyric formulas, the hardships of love and obsessing over particular women, but Pinchak makes the familiar new again thanks to his vocal bite and high velocity guitar work. “Hit My Stride” swaggers thanks to a rollicking rhythm section performance that casts Pinchak’s vocal and blues guitar in an even better light. Acoustic guitar, particularly bottleneck slide, emerges on Pinchak’s Robert Johnson cover “Crossroads Blues”. This is a tough-minded, focused version of a blues classic. There’s a bit of a good time vibe cutting through “Rock Me Down”, but while the lighter touch comes through, Pinchak and his band mates still take a serious stance on everything they play that gives the music authority. “Poison” dwarfs the other songs with its near eight minute running time, but Pinchak puts on a blues clinic ably matched by dynamite accompaniment. “I Can’t Stop” returns the band to the land of physical mid-tempo blues and proves one of the album’s best numbers. It’s thanks to an impressively unified approach from the whole band – the performance is a seamless experience where one note doesn’t seem to land out of place and the band’s interplay gives the song an inevitable sweep of sorts.
“Poor One” serves up some sweet blues and it’s a nice change of pace from the album’s earlier efforts. Pinchak tempers his voice accordingly and delivers one of his best vocals on the album. His clear attention to the nuance of the song shows he isn’t strictly some raw-throated belter. “Best I Could” is a final slow blues with nice piano playing and a smoky ambiance that never sounds false or stagy. Pinchak is poised, with this album, to break through into another level. It deserves widespread exposure thanks to the songwriting, singing, and musical quality. Blue on Arrival is near the upper echelon of the year’s best efforts.
9 out of 10 stars.