CHRIS JONES AND THE NIGHT DRIVERS, LIVE AT THE OLD FEED STORE
Here’s a live album that gets it right. Just enough ambiance and crowd involvement so you get the experience. Instruments and voices are in balance so you hear everyone clearly. Introductions are kept to a minimum or on separate tracks so you don’t go nuts after you play it for the tenth time. It’s hard to imagine improving the sound by much. According to the liner notes, the 14 songs were drawn from a two-night stint by the band in Cobden, Ill. That probably means this doesn’t represent a single set. It is, however, a textbook example of how to organize one for a live show.
The album opens and closes as a good set should. You hit them hard and quick to open, in this case with the old classic “Bound To Ride,” and you go out with a roar, here with another classic, a very rapid “Pike County Breakdown.” In between, you draw on past band recordings, songs from other recorded projects, and include a few new songs. Fresh-sounding restatements of “Follow Your Heart Back Home,” “Then I Close My Eyes,” “I’m Ready If You’re Willin’,” “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms,” and “One Door Away,” all from earlier Night Drivers recordings, stand beside “Lonely Town,” a track that Jones sang on bassist Jon Weisberger’s 2008 solo album and beside an engrossing “Battle Of The Bands,” another Weisberger original and another tune Jones recorded earlier, this time for the Civil War trilogy, The 1861 Project. As a vehicle for Jones’ voice and delivery, the slow, lilting country of “Lonely Town” can scarce be bettered. Along with the new Jones original, “Like A Hawk,” which weds a blues verse with a song-style chorus and is as sly as can be, it highlights one of the better live recordings of recent years. (www.chrisjonesgrass.com)BW