Lucid Culture


CD Review: Christabel and the Jons – Custom Made for You

This album has a warm, summery feel – a New Yorker would call this Pete’s Candy Store music (after the popular Brooklyn bar). Knoxville oldtimey band Christabel and the Jons‘ new cd alternates between upbeat country shuffles, torchy, sophisticated, retro jazzy pop and occasional indie-folk with a playful yet terse backdrop of understated guitar lit up in places with accordion, trumpet and violin, propelled by a briskly tasteful rhythm section. Frontwoman Christa DeCicco has something of the Norah Jones jazz/pop style that’s been all the rage this decade but her voice is distinctively hers, and refreshingly casual: she can say an awful lot with just a little. There are distant echoes of Billie Holiday, but the smoke disappears when DeCicco sets her sights on something she wants and then she’s all business. Many of these songs have a seductiveness that’s completely off the charts.

The album kicks off with a jaunty yet resigned post-breakup number, its narrator sitting with a pillow between her knees, not particularly relishing being newly single. The tempo picks up even faster with the title track, a cajolement that turns downright sultry as the lights go down with the slinky seduction anthem Closer to You. “Give me a room full of men like you and I’ll get closer to you,” DeCicco adds with a knowing wink. Lady Gag, eat your heart out: this might be the sexiest song of the year. Nothing Is Wrong is a cheery, optimistic tune, looking forward to days at the beach after a long winter. A litttle later, they shuffle through the lonesome band-on-the-road song Last Night’s Dress with a nice smoky trumpet solo.

More Than Friends is a blissful cheating song set to a fast country dance tune – “There’s heat coming off you like a kerosene lamp,” DeCicco reminds, envisioning the guy’s car in the bar’s deserted parking lot after closing time. It’s followed by Back to Tennessee, a joyously swinging oldtimey blues tune with the band on devious deadpan backing vocals. The album’s secret track is a clever number with a Boswell Sisters feel updated for the end of the zeros (and the teens – we’re practically there). The whole thing is great fun and promises equally good things down the road. Awfully nice to see a group working in an oldtimey milieu yet with a sound all their own. Christabel and the Jons play the Jalopy on Oct 1 at 9 PM. The band’s other tourdates are below:

9/18: Canyons of the Blue Ridge, Blowing Rock, NC

9/20: KXL Swing Dance, Dance Dimensions, Knoxville, TN, 8 pm

9/23: O’Mainnin’s Pub, Bristol, TN, 10 pm

9/24: Purple Fiddle, Thomas, WV,  8 pm

9/25: Victorians Midnight Cafe, Columbus, OH, 8 pm

9/26: Howler’s Coyote Cafe, 8 pm

9/27: Bullfrog Brewery, Williamsport, PA, 9 pm

10/1: Jalopy Theater, Brooklyn, NY, 9 pm

10/2: Club Passim, Cambridge, MA, 9 pm

10/3: Salt Hill Pub, Lebanon, NH

September 13, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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