Jack Grelle lives in one of the more interesting dualities in the world of Columbia, MO’s music scene. On one front is his footing in punk and hardcore, having been both the drummer for Bookmobile and the male vocalist in Task Force. However, what is slightly less known, is his foray into folk and country music that has occurred in tandem with his work in both bands, first under the pseudonym Javelin Track but eventually under his own name. After several years of intimate shows in houses and a couple of tours, this side of his work has finally been caught on disc.
On Jack Grelle’s self titled solo debut, he takes a stripped down approach in these tales of drifting and traveling delivered with a feel that’s part old timey yet also moody and relevant. Built around his acoustic guitar work and vocals, there’s a lonesome feeling on some of these tracks (“Jack’s Blouse,” “Troubled Mind”), while others use a minimal approach with some occasional banjo, fiddle, and some backup vocals to create a sound that both longs for connection while carrying on within its own space. Whether it’s a traveling song of sorts (“Don’t Follow a Line”) or a catchy live favorite that fans will recognize instantly (“Talkin’ Pocatello Blues”) Grelle and company manages to create audio tales of life, struggle, longing, and travel in its ups and downs that, while staying traditional in nature, seems way more current than the slick twanged up pop too many try and pass off as country music these days.
Jack Grelle isn’t a CD that will be everyone’s cup of tea. The stripped down sound and diverse subject matter will likely alienate those who just want some love songs or a simple aural wallpaper. However, for listeners willing to take the risk it does provide a listen that’s worth going to the store (or checking out his bandcamp page) to hear.