I can’t remember when I first met J.K. Terrell. Maybe it was when he was playing behind Johnny Shines or when I helped record Lost In The Mail. It could have been when he played with Beanland or the John Kilzer Band. Regardless our friendship goes way back.
I have always known J.K. as a percussionist and blues harp player. He is a seasoned, road-tested and proven musician. When he told me a couple of years ago that he was going to fulfill his dream to cut an album, I encouraged him. I assumed it would be an instrumental album or someone else would be the vocalist.
He has never been a vocalist and that part of the recording process scared him. But J.K. was determined to deliver what had been churning in his brain for years. The only alternative was for him to learn to sing. He brought in the best vocal coach in this part of the country. I let them use my studio and after weeks of coaching, he was ready to record.
I am not going to tell you that J.K. Terrell is the world’s greatest singer. What I am going to tell you is he won’t be embarrassed by the vocals on his album. His vocals are heartfelt, filled with emotion and really good clarity. His project proves you can teach an old dog a new trick.
J.K. wasn’t looking to be compared to other artists. He knew recreating music is more effective than creating it. He also knows this usually produces recordings that are only satisfactory – the sound is familiar and well performed, but lacks anything that demands attention. J.K.’s formula was to deliver the sounds that have been churning in his head all these years.
His album is appropriately titled, New Wrinkle, since J.K. is now receiving his social security check every month. He recently retired from the University of Alabama School of Social Work. New Wrinkle was recorded at Southern Breeze Studios in Tuscaloosa. It was engineered & mixed by John Kliner and mastered by Joey Laycock. The musicians for the project are Jason Speegle-guitars, Bruce Hopper-bass, John Kilner-drums, Matt Slocum-keyboards and NotSoSlim & Jann McCutchen Simpson-background vocals.
Though the disc stays true to roots music, it features a wide range of styles and rhythms. From the Chicago-flavored "Blues Had a Baby" to the Ry Cooder beat of "Down in Hollywood" to Scott Boyer’s "Don’t Hit Me" to the Jay Z/Hugo-inspired "99 Problems" each song expresses a unique personality.
My favorites was the album’s only original, “Right Outside” and the cover of Tom Waits “Jockey Full of Bourbon.” Another couple of great choices are Wet Willie’s Jimmy Hall’s “Rendezvous with the Blues” and Slim Harpo’s “I Want To Be With You Tonight.” Repeating myself, the songs are diverse, and fit perfectly to the record.
New Wrinkle is a southern blues album that grabs you from the beginning and holds you until the end. This album has a well-rounded selection of songs that feature J.K.’s great harmonica and percussion playing; no overplaying or dominating. New Wrinkle is a well-balanced album through out.
New Wrinkle can be purchased at CD Baby and Amazon and locally at some independent record stores.
This article published in the November 2013 Issue of The Leaf