Pennsylvania-based singer-songwriter and musician Jeff Fetterman has released a new album. It’s titled Southern Son. But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
Fetterman’s rockin’ resume includes his 2015 platter Bottle Full of Blues and his 2017 release 9 Miles to Nowhere. He was also a semi-finalist at the 2018 IBCs in Memphis. According to his official website, his music has appeared in such film and television projects as NBC’s “The Passions”, TNT’s “The Closer”, the Spanish motion picture The Tough Guy, and Ford commercials.
He tours both nationally and internationally. He has thus far played shows with 38 Special, Stephen Stills, Molly Hatchet, Ana Popovic, Popa Chubby, Chris Duarte, Samantha Fish, Mato Nanji & Indigenous, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jimmy Thackery, Jimmy Vaughan, Joe Louis Walker, and others.
Jeff Fetterman’s signature sound is a blend of multiple music genres including blues, funk, rock, soul (and on this new disc) tinges of Americana and rockabilly.
Released on the Green Tea Music label, this is his third release. The CD includes a total of 12 tracks and has a running time of over an hour. Here Jeff Fetterman leads the way on guitar, and lead vocals. He is backed by an assortment of other artists.
He is backed by his touring band Eric Brewer (guitar), Ralph Reitinger III (bass), and John McGuire (drums). There’s also producer Christoffer “Kid” Andersen (Hammond B3 organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, percussion, and backing vocals. There’s also a horn section for a couple of cuts including John Halbleib (trumpet), Ric ‘Mightybone’ Feliciano (trombone), and Doug Rowan (saxophone).
Track by Track
The album opener is “I Don’t Want To.” This blues-rocker has a groovy R&B touch to it and the music aggressive enough to grab your attention but not overly so. Fetterman’s strong, gruff vocals tell the tale of a toxic relationship on a track that demands attention.
The tuneful trip continues on “49/61.” It’s one of those crossroads stories. This upbeat audio offering is about Robert Johnson and his infamous meet-up with the Devil.
The next number is “Memphis Sky.” It’s a slightly slower ballad with a definite Americana element to it. It comes complete with a reference to Bruce Springsteen.
“Goin’ Down To Nashville” follows as the subconscious tour of the South continues. This one has an almost rockabilly feel to it and is somehow reminiscent of old school blues artist Elmore James.
“Living With The Blues” is one of those tracks your rockin’ reviewer calls “a slow dance song.” First Fetterman smokes and here on this “smoky-little-club” cut he nearly smolders with this sad song. It might be a prerequisite for a platter such as this but Fetterman makes it work.
Fetterman picks things up again with the shuffle-like “Ain’t Got You.” It’s reminiscent of something by Howlin’ Wolf, or Stephen Ray Vaughan since it’s got a Texas touch to it. Imagine ZZ Top before they were signed to a record deal if that makes sense.
“Feels Like Rain” is a catchy blues cut with a trace of Americana added for good measure. This one is radio-ready.
Gotta have some 12-bar shuffle on an album such as this. “Tell Me Baby” is a great example. This is no doubt a fave of the live crowds. (Are we going to Chicago? We’re goin’ somewhere for sure!)
“Blues For Charlie” is a noteworthy, smoky-slow instrumental. It allows one and all the chance to showcase their skills as musicians. It’s a heartfelt piece dedicated to Fetterman’s late father.
The album endnote is “All Along The Watchtower.” While there are two bonus tracks on the disc, this one single cover cut should really be considered to be the end of the journey. Fetterman works to make his version of the Bob Dylan classic his own via the addition of an unexpected funky intro that almost has a world music feel to it. It’s otherwise inspired by Hendrix’s famous cover version, of course.
A team effort by the entire band, the bonus tracks are both interesting instrumentals. First up is “Voodoo Funk.” This one might remind fans of the 1970s funk of such acts Sly and the Family Stone or even Parliament-Funkadelic. As they used to say before the world became humorless and overly-PC, it’s music even white guys can dance to.
Last but not necessarily least, is “Southside Blues.” It’s a nearly 7-minute jam that undoubtedly was fun for the band.
Overall . . .
Overall, this album is solid. The addition of a horn section and keys seem to further fortify Fetterman’s signature sound. It is perhaps the best example yet of his love and passion for music and his flexibility in terms of songwriting.
His compositions flow between styles and genres. His music reflects the sounds that have inspired him over the years. So check out Jeff Fetterman’s Southern Son now because “I Don’t Want To” have to tell you again later.