Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus are readying for the release of a new album. It’s titled Going The Distance and has a drop date of June 3, 2022. But first, for those of you not yet familiar with the act in question, a bit o’ background.
Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus
Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus are a pair of performers popularly known as Austin, Texas’ folk-rock duo. According to their official website, they have been performing live for over four decades originally under the band name Edge City. They first met at a bar in Arnold, Maryland. During a break, Brokus asked Patton if she could sing with his group.
He broke the rule “against strangers sitting in” and suggested a song. They performed Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand” together and the rest is history. Their rockin’ resume includes numerous live performances and a few previous platters including an EP and a collective compilation album of previously released recordings.
Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus’ signature sound is a mix of multiple music genres including Americana, folk, and rock. Sources of inspiration include the likes of the Byrds, Bob Dylan, the Everly Brothers, Emmy Lou Harris, Jefferson Airplane, Bill Kemp, Van Morrison, Richard and Linda Thompson, and Neil Young but have a signature sound that they describe as “pretty much our own.” Lyrically speaking, Patton draws on American authors “from Fitzgerald and Hemingway and Faulkner to Kerouac and Salinger and Raymond Chandler.”
The people and friends Patton grew up with are also credited as a source of inspiration. “I knew doctors and lawyers and waitresses and teachers and water rats and gravediggers and the guy who drove the truck that emptied the port-o-pots all over the state.” As to his musicianship, Patton reports learning to play the acoustic guitar “playing [Bob] Dylan songs, and electric [guitar] in a band playing Rolling Stones songs.”
Going The Distance
Going The Distance is a 12-track album. All of the songs, unless otherwise noted, were written solely by Patton. According to a recent email, “[o]ver the first two years of the pandemic, Patton joined his longtime producer Ron Flynt in Jumping Dog Studio to record twenty songs they later narrowed to the eleven (plus a coda) on the album.”
Patton and Brokus lead the way on lead vocals and acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies respectively. They are backed by an assortment of other artists including Bill Kirchen (lead Telecaster), Warren Hood (fiddle), Rich Brotherton ( cittern, mandolin, and acoustic guitars), John Bush (Gong Bops percussion), BettySoo (vocal harmonies), and Flynt (bass, piano, harmonium, harpsichord, whurly, accordion, B3, baritone guitar, acoustic guitar, 12 string acoustic guitar, and background vocals.)
Track by Track
The album opens on the titular song-story, “Going The Distance.” It was co-written by Patton and Texas singer-songwriter Jeff Talmadge. Something about the music on this cut might even remind you a little of lesser-known Tom Petty material.
The second selection is “That’s What I Do.” Specifically, what Patton does is write his own songs. This is the first example on the disc.
The next number is “Struggling.” Co-written with Austin folk singer Steve Brooks, it features guest artist Eric Hisaw on lead guitar. This message here is sadly both timely and all too universal in its message but at least the music is light and upbeat.
“Words I Can’t Unsay” follows. This one was also co-written by Patton and Texas singer-songwriter Jeff Talmadge. It’s a nice little musical apology addressing our inability to take back things that we say in the heat of the moment.
The performing pair’s signature sound and musical consistency remain solid on “Janey It’s Alright.” It is also perhaps a piece about perseverance and being there for someone else.
Not to be confused with the 2015 song recorded by Israeli singer Nadav Guedj, this “Golden Boy” is another original composition by Patton. This one is about a hometown hero who lost his gleam when he went from someone with great promise to someone with problems.
“Brand New Love” is the seventh songful serving. It is the final song on the disc that was co-written by Patton and Texas singer-songwriter Jeff Talmadge and comes complete with several familiar compositional elements.
“Facing The Lions” is a Bible-tinted cautionary tale that focuses on the consequences of our actions via various musical metaphors.
“Gino” is the sad song of a man in his 50s who peaked in high school and spent the rest of his life struggling with alcohol and not being able to face the fact that sooner or later we are all responsible for our own actions.
The upbeat and apt “Austin Night”, while not totally unexpected in its inclusion here, offers listeners one more example of Patton’s specific solo songwriting talents. It appears to be autobiographical in nature complete with a handy reference to The Beatles’ Rubber Soul to aid in identifying the setting and timeframe.
Also included here is “I’m Still A Dreaming Man” which Patton co-wrote with both Brooks and Talmadge. The message here is, like a few other cuts here, steeped in realism but pulls out of its lyrical dive with a couple of well-placed words of wisdom that serve to provide listeners with a silver lining.
Track 12 is the coda “Going the Distance (slight return).” It’s a brief thematic parenthetical piece that would fill the inner groove of a vinyl record.
Overall, this disc indirectly reflects recent events. Thankfully, it is free of any COVID-related songs but it does effectively explore such related themes as dreams deferred, plans gone awry, experiencing loneliness, and working to mend relationships with significant others. Perhaps most importantly, Patton and Brokus perform as if making this disc is the highlight of their year. So check out Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus’ Going The Distance because you might just discover a “Brand New Love.”