Blue Corn Music/Suburban

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American singer-guitarist Jeff Pankenhorn has been playing for others in and around Austin for more than twenty years, but has made four solo albums since 2003, none of which were released here.

The ten songs on his new one prove how unjustified that is: the first chords of opener ‘Bird Out On 9th’ form an acoustic riff that is as intriguing as it is unrelenting, supported by hypnotic drums, while he sings in a melancholic and enchanting way. After that he combines

spaciously played songs with four swinging up-tempo numbers, two of which have original brass lines.

Plankenhorn proves to write excellent rootsy songs with Gabriel Rhodes, Michael Fracasso, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Michael O’Connor and Colin Linden, his producer (including Keb’ Mo’ and Bruce Cockburn). He is also a versatile and convincing guitarist on acoustic guitar and steel guitar and on his own variation on lap steel, while he plays piano in two songs too.

‘Plank’ was accompanied by various drummers, bassist John Dymond and two different B3 organists, including brass arranger Jim Hoke. Colin Linden also played acoustic and electric guitar and put space at the centre of his production, which not only highlights the guitars, but also Plankenhorn’s search for himself, peace and a fresh start. He recently moved from Austin to Vancouver Island, Canada, which ís located ‘at sea’, although he promises to return in ‘Keep Me On Your Mind’, the closing song.

By honoring keyboardist Ian McLagan (‘Jugglin Sand’) and drawing inspiration from Canned Heat’s ‘On The Road Again’ (‘Maybe It’s Not Too Late’), Chris Isaak’s ‘Blue Hotel’ (‘Bluer Skies’) and Buddy and Julie Miller’s ballads (‘You’ll Stay’), the sensitive and fierce veteran Plankenhorn figuratively plants himself firmly among other roots greats.