Thoroughly Entertaining, Thoroughly Professional
By Jim Chrzan
Being unfamiliar with Jim Bassett's voice or talent as a songwriter, his new offering, Lockdown, is a revelation.
No basement recording here; this is a thoroughly professional production. The drums, in particular, are well-played and expertly recorded. Bass too. Vocals, and maybe more importantly, the layers of backing vocals, sound excellent. Songwriting, in general, is very strong. There are only two selections I did not absolutely love (more later). It's also a great physical package, with strong visual concept.
Unlike anything else on the CD, the opening track, “Last Of The Full Grown Men,” literally blows you away—live brass, ballsy vocals, very clever songwriting with each phrase carving its own "air quotes." Nice song structure overall that totally captures the feeling. I could listen to this all day. Jim told me the song is about Evel Knievel, but it's bigger than that for me. This tune could jump start any party anywhere!
With the next selection, “Fingerpaint the Sky,” Jim's labor of love settles into a slightly more conventional rock n' roll record—and there's nothing wrong with that. Jim's voice has an uncanny resemblance to Roger Daltry's, and this catchy number would make an excellent Who or Daltry solo offering. It's opening guitar lick, solid structure and some soaring backing vocals send this one up near the top of my list.
“Ask Me,” the first of two beautiful love ballads, kind of turns Meatloaf's “I Would Do Anything for Love” on its side with its lyrics. This is a more sincere effort, well-recorded. Again, Roger Daltry could sing this and make another fortune! I could also see it on a motion picture soundtrack. The only problem it is followed by the other ballad, “Cry Me Back,” which is pure perfection.
“Cry Me Back” is probably the best thing on the CD. I want to play this song for anyone who'll listen. It's a bit more simple and stripped down than “Ask Me,” but this is songwriting and recording perfection. Roots inspired and real earthy, this song seems more Jim's own voice than anything else. The backing vocals, which are also sung by Jim, are stellar here as well.
“Drool On My Pillow” is a good road song. Smart lyrics and fresh phrasing, but it's not as engaging for me because there are just too many better songs out there. But that's art, right? Different things appeal to different people. Like “Walking Shoes,” which is well done, but is just not my cup of tea.
Another contender for best song, though, is “Something's Gonna Catch Fire,” It starts out a little interesting but kicks into a whole new gear with the chorus turn around, “again and again and again and again.” That's the beautiful thing about great songwriting: two words that have been sung together for 50 years still manage to take on a new urgency. These words are sublime, the repetition works, and the song structure is great.
A couple other songs combine tuneful hooks with with well-crafted lyrics. “I Know A Good Man” delivers a pretty biting social commentary from a very personal angle, cloaked in a catchy tune. This song kind of creeps up on you, while “Food That Hurts” should be picked up by a cooking show. Contemporary songwriting enters food culture—and why not? Bluesy, with great vocal delivery, and witty songwriting that works, it could really add to the branding of a personality chef.
Jim saved the best for last with the title track, “Lockdown.” It's one of my personal favorites, and I defy anyone to listen to this song, turn off the stereo and walk away WITHOUT singing “I'm on lockdown...." Again, great songwriting structure, and very well recorded in a way captures this sound perfectly. I could hear The Ramones doing this!
So there it is. I'm a fan. The hard work shows all around.
Lockdown by Jim Bassett
Awesome! Can't stop listening to it! It gets better every time I listen to it. Best new album that i have heard in years, and yes, the whole album! Not just one song like most new albums