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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Jamey Clay
Label: Hamamas Music
Length: five-song EP
Thoughtful, spiritual and clever folk music is what you'll find when you listen to Jamey Clay's independent five-song release Every Living Thing.
Clay and I attended college together in Arkansas--the state he still calls home. Clay's songs have always been appealing. One of my early favorites was 1992's bittersweet "Rain" which he recorded with John Brown University college band Green Jello on Thursday.
Later, as a solo artist, Clay wrote "Eco People," his lighthearted poke at environmental activism. Clay always had a wry sense of humor and it always worked well when infused into his songs.
These days, Clay's contemplative songs are more overtly spiritual, reflecting his Christian faith.
The old standard "Nothing But the Blood" opens up the EP. Playing all the instruments, including the fingerpicked guitar and percussion, Clay gives this gospel song an inspired and folksy update.
The title track, inspired by Psalm 8, features Clay taking in the beauty and creativity of all that is around him. In his liner notes, referring to this song, Clay asks "How can there not be a God?"
Clay's singing and guitar playing on the "Midwest Blues" is particularly nostalgic in tone.
"Been here longer than I remember/ Sweatshirts and jeans, cold nights in December / And faded film of family members / Singing "love lifted me."
Clay, who is a very down-to-earth and easy going guy said the song came from his love-hate relationship with rural America. Living in a small town along the Arkansas-Oklahoma border leads me to believe he really loves living in the Heartland. And that earthiness works to his musical benefit.
"I love the simplicity of it, and the family life of it and the lack of pretension," Clay said recently of life in rural America. "But there's a sadness too, a loneliness and sameness that make it the Midwest blues."
If you like the quieter side of Phil Keaggy or the observational folk music of Greg Brown, check out Every Living Thing.
For more information go to www.jameyclay.com.
Andrew West Griffin 06/14/04