North County Times - Rating: "A"
Hailing from the (usually) sun-soaked hills of San Diego, the Mark Jackson Band is about as far as you can get from Nashville and still be in the continental United States.
And yet, MJB's newest album .....is more deeply steeped in country traditions than most anything coming out of Music City these days.
In its straight-ahead approach to country music minus the frills and window dressing,the Mark Jackson Band reminds of old-school musicians like Waylon Jennings and George
Strait. With Jackson's smooth singing voice and a sound built around traditional acoustic instruments, the band is somewhere between traditionalists such as Ricky Skaggs and the more modern newgrass acts such as Nickel Creek.
But what is going to keep "Love May Take the Long Road Home" in your CD player spin after spin is the collection of great songs found on it. From the opening cover of "Two Hearts" (written by Fallbrook's Bruce FitzSimmons) through Jackson's own songs like "I'm Sorry (For Making You Feel Like I Do)","I Wanna Listen to a Love Song" and the title track, this album is full of little gems you won't be able to get out of your head.
San Diego Troubadour - March 2005
There's no reinventing the wagon wheel here - just good old-fashioned country music the way they used to make it. The twangy vocal harmonies shadow each other tightly in idiomatic fashion, close yet relaxed, like undercover cops on a tail. The harmonicas are wheezy and nostalgic like a hobo huddled over this night's campfire; the slide guitars croon languidly like a front porch dog in a summer swelter; the pedal-steel swoons like a long echo up a dusty canyon; and the lyrics are full of those beloved, whimsical, often metaphorical twists and turns of phrase one has come to expect from this love-it-or-leave-it genre (Exhibit A: the title track).
You'll find many country song archetypes represented here. There's the rave-up barnburner ("Western Radio"), the mid-tempo tears-in-beer shuffle ("Pardon Me"), and the serene end-of-hoedown wind-down (the instrumental "Old Love's Come Again"). An excellent crossover moment comes during the last selection - the aforementioned "Western RadioÃ¢Â€Âš" which is billed as a bonus live track; the bassist actually does a slap line in the song and takes a nice lengthy slap solo that funkifies the country like Cajun cooking spices up soul food.
Aside from a lack of twang in Jackson's vocals on some cuts, the musicianship is crisp and concise, with lots of professional moments that boost the emotional impact of the music. It's easier to appreciate music when it's been put down right in the studio, and this release definitely benefits from that care.
Good country music recalls the road and the wide-open places of North America where country music is all your radio can pick up on a long sojourn through the heartland. This record emanates that laid-back road trip vibe in spades.
About the Mark Jackson Band:
Acoustic Performer Mark Jackson is a singer/songwriter whose music has traveled from the hills of Oklahoma to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Influenced by such greats as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Willie Nelson, he carries on the tradition of the storyteller and poet, creating the straight-talking western American style of music that has become his signature.
Mark grew up in Oklahoma City, and after sailing the world with the Navy he landed in San Diego, Ca., which he now calls home. In 1993, he began performing with fellow songwriter Peter Bolland. Combining their talents they became the locally well-known duo Jackson~Bolland. In 2002, Mark released his first solo album "Vigilante Road". (nominated for the 2003 San Diego Music Awards Best Americana Album of the Year and available on CD Baby) Created with a group of talented musician friends, this record lead to the forming of the Mark Jackson Band in 2003.
Today the band includes Ken Wilcox on acoustic lead & slide guitar, electric guitar, autoharp & vocals; Rick Lien on bass; Grant Kester on harmonica & harmony vocals; Danny Cress on drums; and Pamela Haan on vocals & percussion.
Ken Wilcox, a native Southern Californian, grew up during the folk music scene of the 60's and has devoted much of his life to mastering finger-style and slide guitar inspired by the talent of John Fahey, Steve Gillette, Leo Kottke and Albert Lee. Today, a gifted guitarist & musician in his own right, Ken has developed a signature musical style that can be found throughout everything the band creates.
Danny Cress is one of the most sought after drummers in the San Diego region, playing both on recording sessions and live with a number of well-respected and diverse groups. This talented drummer, who plays with the finesse needed for more traditional folk/country music, can also turn up the energy and play full on honky tonk and rock 'n roll as well as any drummer in San Diego today, which makes him a major asset for this band's diverse musical style.
Grant Kester , who grew up on the east coast, is a dynamic harmonica player who performed with a number R&B bands over the years in that region of the country. Now a resident of San Diego, Grant blends his strong blues background together with the acoustic roots country & honky tonk style of the Mark Jackson Band to help mold a sound that is truly unique.
Rick Lien is another native Southern Californian whose greatest musical influences include Tom Petty and the Beatles. Rick is well known in the San Diego music scene in a variety of rolls, including sound and recording engineer (where his most recent credits include the recording of the Mark Jackson Band's latest CD). He is also a talented bass player who has lent his keen ear to several local bands over the years.
Pamela Haan, who grew up in the Midwest in a family of classically trained musicians, developed a strong ear for close, stacked harmonies listening to her father sing in gospel and barbershop quartets. That love of harmony continued into adulthood and grew to include the full, flowing harmonies found in traditional country music and the multi-layered harmonies of the '70s rock bands such as Poco and the Eagles. Today she lends her ear for strong harmony to add richness and depth to the band's original works.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Two Hearts
2. Pardon Me
3. Love may take the long road Home
4. No more reasons to Cry
5. One long Minute
6. Old love's come Knocking
7. Seven second Smile
8. I'm Sorry (for making you feel like I do)
9. Julia's Waltz
10. I wanna listen to a love Song
11. Old Love's come Again
12. Bonus Live Track: Western Radio (state of mind)