J. C. – Deathbed Recollections

J. C.
Deathbed Recollections

On this debut album, old miser J. C. and musical accompanist Anphibius straddle several lines and sit upon all sorts of fences. This indeterminacy, however, rests not in the music but in the shadows and whispers that inform the record’s tone and disposition. Is this stuff intelligent or pretentious? Earnest or winking? Dissolute or dispassionate? Sincere queries abound, faithful friend.
Deathbed Recollections, distinguished by a musicality more classic and refined than most Amer-indie recordings, would sound like a forgotten old favorite to a fan of Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave. J. C.’s lightly intoxicated, gently somber bon vivant character smoothly croons paeans to love and ladies and whatever other interests guys who wear smoking jackets have. Opening scenario “Social Spring Cleaning” paints the tone that J. C. rarely wavers from, featuring tuneful piano melodies with sweetly morose vocals that, for whatever reason, are really damn hard to understand. Anphibius plays various pianos and organs as well as the occasional helminthian fife, and on a few tracks the besotted duo corral in a cellist, cornettist, percussionist, and thereminist to accentuate the late-night-in-a-Paris-lounge atmosphere.
It’s not all so down-spirited, however; “Watchable,” a standout track, possesses a bit more pep than most of the album. Its sorta got a bit of the melody from “Thunder Road,” which fits perfectly, and J. C.’s croon sounds a lot like the good ol’ Jazz Butcher, Pat Fish. The very next song, “The Worm That Turned On,” is another up-tempo number that should appeal to fans of Belle & Sebastian and good music in general. Indeed, Deathbed Recollections is all quite good, and in fact gets better the more it is listened to.
Those questions, however, buzz about consistently, like the tinnitus in Pete Townsend’s ears. How serious is all this? The morose party-fellow shtick can come across a bit foppish and cartoonish at times, not so much through the music as through the listener’s own inference and fluctuating degree of distrust. The music, whose sincerity and quality is irreproachable, stands beyond doubt; J. C.’s mien, however, sometimes rings false. In all, however, Deathbed Recollections stands as quite an accomplished and enjoyable listen.