Jeff London – Col. Summers Park

Jeff London
Col. Summers Park

Jeff London. Forgive me, but I have some negative associations with that name. You see, my 10th and 11th grade math teacher was a man named Jeff London. As I was horrible in the study of mathematics, Mr. London presided over some of my darkest academic moments. Being my baseball coach for two years, he also engineered some of my greatest athletic collapses, as well. No doubt, this Jeff London, is going to have to overwhelm me to break this conditioned negativity that saturates me before even listening to his music.
Luckily for him, the musical Jeff London excels in crafting just the kind of achingly honest folk-tinged songwriting that is capable of breaking down unconscious barriers. When not playing bass for indie popsters Boy Crazy, London can be found pairing introspection with occasionally lush, occasionally dissonant sonic dressings. While not the type of songwriter to hand you his melodies with a wink and a handshake, it takes few listens for their winning qualities to find harbor in your head.
With the opening solo acoustic guitar lines of “Strong Winters Cease,” draped in tasteful violin and Rhodes organ, it appears that Portland’s Hush Records, already with Kind of Like Spitting, Fancie, and Corrina Repp in tow, has cornered the market on this sort of modern indie-folk. The richly adorned “Routine Abandonment (Lifeboat),” with soft French horn riding a beautifully rising melody and strangely dissonant fuzz bass, is indicative of an adventurous spirit, not content to simply mine the safe territory between heartfelt expression and commonplace arrangements.
Time and again, Jeff London displays an impressive knowledge of adding just the right touches to fill out his more evasive arrangements. The weary pedal steel and weepy violin of “Barely Breathing” certainly calls to mind Vic Chesnutt, with Kind of Like Spitting’s Ben Barrett adding lonesome backup vocals and lead guitar. Displaying similar contrast, the bouncy clap-along “How Love Is” and the Neil Young-ish “Cat On a String,” whose solemnity is shattered by an unexpectedly brash guitar solo, insure that you never grow too comfortable during the course of each song. Similarly unexpected, “Humphrey Hill” incorporates haunting minor chord changes and heartsick ruminations that make the song as picturesque as its title.
As the album artwork is dotted with autumnal photographs, it is altogether appropriate that Col. Summer Park is the kind of warm toned album that feels like a warm sweater on a fall day. While the album isn’t a full-on embrace, London’s songwriting is welcoming and inviting in spite of its preoccupation with transition, failed relationships, and homesickness. But, music has always served the function of helping its performers heal themselves, and Jeff London may just help me balance the ugly memories associated with his name’s sake with far more positive associations.

Jeff London – Col. Summers Park

Jeff London
Col. Summers Park

Jeff London. Forgive me, but I have some negative associations with that name. You see, my 10th and 11th grade math teacher was a man named Jeff London. As I was horrible in the study of mathematics, Mr. London presided over some of my darkest academic moments. Being my baseball coach for two years, he also engineered some of my greatest athletic collapses, as well. No doubt, this Jeff London, is going to have to overwhelm me to break this conditioned negativity that saturates me before even listening to his music.

Luckily for him, the musical Jeff London excels in crafting just the kind of achingly honest folk-tinged songwriting that is capable of breaking down unconscious barriers. When not playing bass for indie popsters Boy Crazy, London can be found pairing introspection with occasionally lush, occasionally dissonant sonic dressings. While not the type of songwriter to hand you his melodies with a wink and a handshake, it takes few listens for their winning qualities to find harbor in your head.

With the opening solo acoustic guitar lines of “Strong Winters Cease,” draped in tasteful violin and Rhodes organ, it appears that Portland’s Hush Records, already with Kind of Like Spitting, Fancie, and Corrina Repp in tow, has cornered the market on this sort of modern indie-folk. The richly adorned “Routine Abandonment (Lifeboat),” with soft French horn riding a beautifully rising melody and strangely dissonant fuzz bass, is indicative of an adventurous spirit, not content to simply mine the safe territory between heartfelt expression and commonplace arrangements.

Time and again, Jeff London displays an impressive knowledge of adding just the right touches to fill out his more evasive arrangements. The weary pedal steel and weepy violin of “Barely Breathing” certainly calls to mind Vic Chesnutt, with Kind of Like Spitting’s Ben Barrett adding lonesome backup vocals and lead guitar. Displaying similar contrast, the bouncy clap-along “How Love Is” and the Neil Young-ish “Cat On a String,” whose solemnity is shattered by an unexpectedly brash guitar solo, insure that you never grow too comfortable during the course of each song. Similarly unexpected, “Humphrey Hill” incorporates haunting minor chord changes and heartsick ruminations that make the song as picturesque as its title.

As the album artwork is dotted with autumnal photographs, it is altogether appropriate that Col. Summer Park is the kind of warm toned album that feels like a warm sweater on a fall day. While the album isn’t a full-on embrace, London’s songwriting is welcoming and inviting in spite of its preoccupation with transition, failed relationships, and homesickness. But, music has always served the function of helping its performers heal themselves, and Jeff London may just help me balance the ugly memories associated with his name’s sake with far more positive associations.