J Burn on ‘Burnt Blue’ sings nostalgia-driven songs soaked in authentic Americana
On their new EP “Burnt Blue,” San Francisco-based Americana band J Burn plays a set of songs that tap into the ghosts of The Grateful Dead, Neil Young and Johnny Cash.
The four-song EP opens with an upbeat romp in “Freight Train” that sounds like it comes straight from a down-home barn dance you either remember from growing up in a rural community, or what you might picture it’s like if you’ve never been to one.
It’s got just enough twang and a lot of authentic heart to make it a winner.
“You know the future’s wide open and it’s time I move along because things aren’t working and a broken heart is hard, freight train, oh freight train, I don’t care where I’m going, I’ll leave it up to you,” lead vocalist Jay Burn sings.
On “Memory Lane,” the band continues that same feel but slows it down a bit. It’s an ode to the “golden days” and it’s a comforting piece of poetry that captures that feeling when you’re looking back at your favorite days of your youth.
It’s a common feeling and makes connecting with the track easy for nearly anyone, especially if you’re a fan of Americana music.
That same type of feeling continues on the next track, “Old Time Heroes,” which comes across like a song you’d play while sitting around the campfire with your friends and recalling some of your favorite people who you have not seen in a long time.
“Hey Mister can you Play Me a Melody, of Some Sweet Forgotten Tune That Reminds Me Of the Time Much Simpler When the Band Always Carried a Perfect Tune,” Burn croons to open the track.
“So Mister Walk Me Through A Memory With That Sweeeeeet, Sweeeeeeet Tune. Doesn’ Matter If You’re Old Voice Is Rusty Because the Song Always Brings Me To My Youth,” he continues. “Let’s Raise A Glass For Forgotten Heroes Who ALways Stood for Just the Noble Cause.”
The simple piano backing track and acoustic guitar add just enough instrumentation to complement the lyrics nicely, also.
I especially enjoy the way they break it down in the final verse and build up the music toward the very end into the final chorus. The melody comes across a little too repetitive perhaps, but it’s hardly something that takes away from the track.
The EP ends with “Our Song Shared,” which sounds quite a bit like something you might hear from Neil Young. It’s a song that’s also about the past, this time talking about traveling together with someone when “freedom wasn’t just a dream.”
It’s the most melancholy track on the EP, but there’s hints of optimism grouped with that less-than-happy feel.
If I were to give any constructive criticism for the group, it’d be that the songs sound a little too similar at times and while it’s awesome that they’ve found a theme that works for them, mostly through nostalgia, it may have been cool to hear them mix it up a bit either with an instrumental track, a second vocalist, or a theme that’s totally different from the one the rest of the songs cover masterfully.
Each song comes across as authentic, which helps connect to listeners, but nothing about the songs really “wowed” me all too much, at the end of the day. Also, before I even heard a track, looking at the cover art I expected a different sound based on the type of photo it was. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the music and the art don’t seem to really match up with each other in that way.
However, at the end of the day, if you love this type of music you’ll surely enjoy J Burn and this short-but-sweet EP. It really does deliver that down-home Americana sound in spades.