Atlanta, Georgia-based Southern folk artist Jefferson Ross is repping for the release of a new disc. It’s titled Southern Currency and has a drop date of March 18, 2022. But first, for those of you not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
Jefferson Ross is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and painter. According to his official website, he lived in Nashville, Tennessee for years playing for such recording artists as “Canada’s Entertainer of the Decade, Terri Clark, and sharing the stage with Country Music greats such as George Strait, Toby Keith, Reba, and Vince Gill.” He was also employed as “a staff writer’ for publishers on Music Row including Curb Music.”
He relocated to Georgia in 2010. He travels throughout both the USA and Europe “performing his original music and sharing his art.” Ross says: “I’m a working musician and singer/songwriter as well and I believe that the music informs the art, and the art informs the music. I’m an apprentice to the wonderful workshop of craft and inspiration and count myself blessed that my work is finding so many loving homes.”
Jefferson Ross calls his signature sound Southern folk. It is a blend of both Americana, folk, and on this album, even a hint of bluegrass. He explained what inspired him to create this work.
“The idea for the Southern Currency album came about when I was telling someone that the South is not just one culture but a collection of many cultures, accents, food traditions, worldviews, etc. I thought it might be cool to write a song for each state and let that idea speak for itself. Each song has a different mood as each southern state has a different mood, a different vibe.”
He added: “I wanted to tell the whole story, warts and all, not just moonlight and magnolias, but also the sins and harsh struggles and battles between those of us who live here. It’s a land of contradictions. Pride and shame. Penance and celebration. Wisdom and ignorance. Judgment and mercy.”
Ross concluded: “The South is my family. But, like family, the wounds go deep as do the joys. Families are complicated. I hope that whoever listens to Southern Currency will get an honest feel of my home, maybe put a face with an idea. Maybe a sound or a taste will humanize a preconceived perception of this place. It’s a place I love.”
Southern Currency is an 11-track album of all original material written by Ross. Ross leads the way on guitar and lead vocals, He is backed by other artists including producer Thomm Jutz (guitar and harmony), Mike Compton (mandolin), Mark Fain (upright bass), Tammy Rogers-King (fiddle and harmony), and Lynn Williams (drums and percussion). The songs here present a clever compilation of cultures and characters, concentrating on 11 distinctive yet united states.
Ross discussed the album recently. He said: “This record is my take on the South with all its stubborn and complicated folks, the festivals and foods, the breathtaking landscapes, the dark sins, and my neighbors who long for and love light. Each state gets its own song here, just for fun.”
Track by Track
The acoustically driven album opens on “Alabama Is a Winding Road.” This is where we begin our musical meandering through Ross’ beloved South. Like some of his other songs, he draws on the good, the bad, and the ugly of historical events.
Track two is the tune “Two Kentucky Brothers.” Pour yourself a shot of Bourbon as Ross regales you with a tale of two siblings separated by the Civil War. Sure, you’ve heard of this before, but Ross makes this one his own.
Are you hungry? No problem! The next number is the clever cut “Baptize the Gumbo.”
This catchy lead single is set in Louisiana. It’s both comedic and relatable. The music video helps to further present the timelessness of this place.
What about that title? Ross explained: “This one is about the miracle of hospitality. To baptize the gumbo is just to add another ladle of water if another guest shows up. There’s always enough to go around. Bienvenue!”
The lively “Down in Macon, Georgia” follows. Like the other individualistic audio offerings before and after it, the song has its own identity and tells a tuneful tale of one lady in the locale.
The laid back “Turquoise and Tangerine” takes us to Florida for a relaxed sunset song complete with musical metaphors. This pretty piece was almost an unexpected inclusion. Still, in the end, welcome and apt.
The upbeat “You Can’t Go Home Again” centers on North Carolina. While this one is meant to focus solely on the one state, it includes a familiar, universal philosophy as well. Despite the title, it’s a road trip song, for sure.
The seventh selection is the slightly sad “Hot Springs.” This one is nigh musically melancholic and dedicated to the oft’times overlooked state of Arkansas. No worries though as Ross knows what’s noteworthy here and is anxious to share.
“High Times in the Low Country” earns its place as one of the promoted “focus cuts.” The Ross ride stops in South Carolina. Perhaps more importantly, you can still hear his love for these places.
Also included here is the bright cut “King of Mississippi.” Sip a touristy Mississippi Punch Cocktail (or “a pint of whiskey”) as Ross’ signature sound remains solid and our entertaining education continues to enlighten.
“The Nashville Neon Waltz” provides a perspective to the state of Tennessee that is Ross’ own. This part of our tuneful trip was, of course, a prerequisite. Nevertheless, Ross makes it work with a quiet story involving a little smoke-filled speakeasy.
The Closing cut is the upbeat title track “Southern Currency.” We end our tune-filled trip in Virginia. Here we learn the meaning of the album’s title as Ross and once more demonstrate their skills and talents.
Overall, the familiar themes herein are made refreshing via the specific settings in each song. Essentially, this disc is meant to be Ross’ colorful, authentic love letter to a place he calls home. Here the traveling troubadour and on-the-go artist displays his musical method of humanizing the South via distinct song-stories.
Ross is a living, breathing Schoolhouse Rock character who mirthfully musically educates audiences on other persons, places, and things. So, check out Jefferson Ross’ Southern Currency and find out how it’s done “Down in Macon, Georgia.”