SIGNS & SIGNIFIERS
If anybody in Oklahoma is most likely to capitalize on wide-audience distribution right now, it must be Broken Arrow’s R&B-flavored rocker JD McPherson, whose debut album, Signs & Signifiers, was re-released last week by Rounder Records.
Producer Jimmy Sutton’s precise attention to past details is Mad Men-esque in its re-creation of rockabilly guitar tones, plunking upright jazz bass, and the way it captures Jonathan Doyle’s tenor sax and McPherson’s voice, which is the kind of durable instrument that made an army of slick-haired, suit-wearing bandleaders famous in the 1950s.
It’s more than mere slick act; McPherson sure can sing. He runs the gamut of stylized Chuck Berry swing-guitar tunes (“I Can’t Complain”), spitfire dance numbers (“Scratching Circles”) and even bluesy, soulful standards like Big Tiny Kennedy’s “Country Boy.” And when the snares pick up on “Fire Bug,” McPherson delivers his lines so confidently, you have to imagine he’s toe-tapping in polished black shoes, even in the studio.
Mark my words: He’s going to wind up as one of those guys we can say we knew back when. —Matt Carney