JD McPherson returns to his rockabilly and R&B roots on Socks | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Music » Concert Preview

JD McPherson returns to his rockabilly and R&B roots on Socks

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

JD McPherson originally busted out on the roots-rock scene in 2010 with his single "North Side Gal." The lead track of his debut album, Signs & Signifiers, which was produced in Chicago by bassist-guitarist Jimmy Sutton, the single features strutting rhythms and slangy lyrics that made it a mild radio staple and a must-have for any DJ working a rockabilly night or retro festival. But while the rest of that album, plus its 2015 follow-up, Let the Good Times Roll, showed McPherson to be a great songwriter capable of writing up-tempo songs in a 1950s R&B style (almost like a less intense Nick Curran), his influence soon spread far beyond rockabilly circles. On his third album, last year's Undivided Heart & Soul, McPherson smoothly transitioned his sound into a more generalized style of roots rock, a la Nick Lowe, and that’s the aesthetic he brought to Chicago this past September when he appeared at Riot Fest ("North Side Gal" stood out like an anomaly in his set). This month’s Socks (New West) is McPherson’s contribution to the Christmas rock canon, and well as his return to rockabilly and R&B. The big swing revival of the late 90s negatively impacted the rockabilly scene; the two genres had similar audiences, and several rockabilly groups toned down their sound to rival the more genteel swing bands. The effects of that era can still be heard in those scenes decades later, but not in McPherson’s music. While he isn't the wildest performer walking the boards today, he's not afraid to shout every now and then, and he remembers that there's more to traditional rock ‘n’ roll than making polite sounds to jive and stroll to.   v

Add a comment