This is my own translation, based on the garbled Google Translator version… Less poetic, but much closer to what I meant!
Blues Noir / Memphis Gothic / blues and rock-driven singer-songwriting
Rob Jungklas is a singer-songwriter with several lives. This versatile artist from Memphis, TN, tried to make a career with the rock oriented ‘Closer To The Flame’ (1986) and ‘Work Songs For A New Moon‘ (1989) His first CD kept attention going: ‘Make It Mean Something’ was a minor hit, ‘Boys Town’ featured a video, produced by Godley & Creme, and ‘Hello Heaven’ was the soundtrack of the movie ‘The Principal’ (with James Belushi and Louis Gossett Jr.) The absence of further success probably will have influenced his decision to turn his back on music, at least on the business side of it, though there are no doubt other factors that played a role in this, both emotionally and professionally. But finally comes around what goes around: Rob conjured up ‘Arkadelphia’ in 2003, followed by ‘Gully’ in 2007. So after a long period of incubation, rock inspired by a.o. Springsteen gave way to brooding, intense ‘blues noir’ -Bruce suddenly flanked by Robert Lee Burnside, so to speak- providing a sometimes sinister sound base for Rob’s rather gloomy reflections, so laden with the seven deadly sins that it scared the hell out of the devil himself.
Mythical grandeur and metaphors, steeped in abysmal emotion, clearly so, but at the same time his lyrics are down to earth, based on observation and real life, and above all wrapped into that powerful, compelling big music. This makes ‘Arkadelphia’ and ‘Gully’ records that helped forge the nillies (or naughties), though this vision is still not commonplace, as his work hasn’t enjoyed enough exposure as yet. That he could deliver the same intense music live on stage was demonstrated brilliantly when he performed with his trio in the Barn at Duvel Blues 2009: he could not have presented himself at a more appropriate festival, judging by the name (refering to the well known Belgian beer Duvel, sponsoring the festival, ‘Duvel Blues’ can be translated as ‘The Devil’s blues’), though his act proved to be a little too exotic for some local fans of traditional blues. During our conversations at Duvel Blues, we came to appreciate Jungklas as a highly-strung, art-loving intellectual with a great sense of humor, more than his music might suggest at first glance. The ensuing ‘Mapping The Wreckage’ (2010) tied well in with its two predecessors, so that one can see them as a trilogy. Then we lost Rob out of sight, but Marcie, our colleague at Rootstime, did not: she wrote a rave review of ‘The Spirit And The Spine’(2013) and her meticulous description of Rob’s music is smack dab in the middle. So we can refer in all good conscience to her review still online at Rootstime.
Now here’s ‘Nothing To Fade’ Rob’s fifth album since his reincarnation, and again it’s spot on, but we must begin by saying that the CD breathes a strikingly different atmosphere than its predecessors. Or should we speak in terms of an evolution, or even a shift of balance? For voice, instrumentation and intensity remain the same and requited songs were on the menu on previous albums too. But ‘Nothing To Fade‘ is packed with reticent musings, as far as a volcano can be ‘reticent’, of course, interrupted only by a stray ‘Satisfied‘, the only up-tempo song that evokes the joie de vivre of R.E.M.. It is almost a pastiche, but a very successful one, for that. ‘Cop For You‘ and even more so ‘Crawl The Moonlight Mile‘ tend to be old school Jungklas, but in the other five songs the balladeer takes the helm. The fascination isn’t a tiny bit less.
The start is impressive in its stillness with the catching and at the same time ethereally beautiful ‘Mary Sees Angels‘, that patiently takes its time to hypnotize you. It’s the kind of song for which the repeat button was invented. ‘Cop For You‘ and ‘Crawl The Moonlight Mile‘ then follow. The last four songs pick up the atmosphere of ‘Mary Sees Angels’ again: the passionately sung ‘I Become’, a dark brown coloured waltz-like structure, and ‘Madeline’ (affectionately pronounced by Rob as ‘Madeleine’), with its heart-tearing sentence ‘I believe in love’, sizzling with barely concealed desire, a phrase that rises up, again and again, from the rusty underlayer, but framed with a ‘hopeful’ piano line. It is a typical emotional armour piercing portrayal of extremes, something that’s uniquely Jungklas. For him, the old French adage ‘Les extrêmes se touchent‘ (‘Extremes touch each other’) is not just an idle claim. Pay attention here to the half sunken parlando of Susan Marshall (who gives vocal support, alongside Reba Russell who is better known over here) If lately you discovered an equally overwhelming love song, please let us know …
After this you might expect a sledgehammer song, a rousing grand finale, but the big music stays away. The small, almost bare ‘Wonderful‘ and ‘Everything That’s True‘ close the record in the same requited mood. Therefore ‘Nothing To Fade‘ benefits from an enjoyable fade out, like when on a calm summer’s day tending towards the evening, when the fuss of the day and the stress that goes along with it, gives way to introspection and nocturnal sleep. That goes above all for the closing tune ‘Everything That’s True‘, although passion continues to toss and turn underneath in the repeated sentence ‘everything that’s true will not fade away’. Dead right, Rob!
Antoine Légat (This translation, far from Google Translator: September 10th 2014)