Jami Lynn Fall is a Good Time to Die Self-released www.JamiLynnMusic.com
As I’ve written before, one of the great benefits about writing about roots music is the opportunity to discover new, exciting talent that speaks directly to my heart.
Such does South Dakota’s Jami Lynn that I am downloading her previous recording Sodbusters as I type and without previewing a single track.
With nature and exploration winding its way through most of Fall is a Good Time to Die’s ten songs, Lynn has creating a pure, genuine collection of music. Inspired by her travels across the Great Plains of the American mid-west, Lynn has woven herself into her subjects, crafting gentle songs that capture the wild instincts of the animals and people who inhabit the less-populated landscapes of her world. Singing and writing about her South Dakota environ, Lynn breathes life and connections to areas we may not have yet experienced, much like John Wort Hannam does with Alberta, Jason Tyler Burton has with Utah and Wyoming, and Jay Clark has done with eastern Tennessee.
Jami Lynn, youthful in her mid-twenties, perhaps…safe to say, she’s a talented youngster…. handles banjo and guitar throughout the recording. Dalton Coffey takes care of the Dobro and mandolin as well as the guitar parts Lynn doesn’t, while Andew Reinartz lays things out on the upright bass. A tangential bluegrass connection is made through Eddie Faris’ editing and mixing at the Skaggs Place; he also adds mandolin to one track, creating a mysterious little atmosphere within “Red Fox.”
A trilogy of canine troubadours provide Lynn with three of her strongest songs. “Red Fox,” “Wolf,” and “Coyote, Why Ya Been Lookin So Thin?” are bound together by subject manner, but Lynn takes differing approaches and perspectives within their individual explorations. “Wolf” opens with a soothing vocal imitation of howls, augmented by (I believe) bowed bass before giving way to more substantive, icy Dobro flourishes. Lynn reveals her jazz background here, playing with her voice while sharing the inner thoughts of her lupine hero. Frailing punctuates “Coyote,” a song that takes me back to when Michelle Shocked seemed to have more fun.
The melding of concise, personal imagery with gentle instrumentation gives “The North Wind” an appealing if slightly chilling atmosphere. “Sturm and Drang” is suitably titled as the guitar-based song exudes anxious intensity. Things are more freewheeling within “God Out on the Plains,” as Lynn captures the majesty of the familiar. The title track is stunning, a beauty of an elegy for my favourite season.
Jami Lynn had something special to start with—a great sense of herself and from where she comes, songs that capture the nuance of experience—but she found a way to make these songs even more impressive through the contributions of Coffey and Reinartz. The Dobro has to be a challenging instrument to duet with as a vocalist, but Fall is a Good Time to Die is a stronger album because of this brave choice. She and Coffey might have had a different album without the Dobro, and it may have been just as good (depending on where they went) but there is no doubt that this recording is made that much more impressive because of the manner in which it has been included. (And there is a sentence I never thought I would right about the hub-cap guitar!)
It took me a while to find Jami Lynn. I’m going to be paying attention from now on.
This is the type of album, and the type of talent, that makes me long to book a folk festival. Yeah, I’m selfish, but the folk world needs to hear Jami Lynn.
Thanks for taking time to visit Fervor Coulee. Donald