Tuneola - Retrospective
2010, Now And Forever Records
Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, England-native Aaron Jaycie grew up in a working class household and followed in his father's footsteps as a steel worker. Nevertheless, he never lost his love for music, and was soon playing in various bands in both the UK and Germany. Jaycie put aside his musical dreams at the age of thirty due to a lack of desired success, but the music wouldn't stop coming. Jaycie has begun writing again, but remains fond of his older material. Retrospective is a collection of the best of Jaycie's prior musical life. Released under the name Tuneola, Retrospective is surprisingly good for someone who almost walked away from it all.
Retrospective opens with "Roll Up You Sinners", a smooth mix of blues, rock and Americana that's reminiscent of Steve Miller. Catchy in spite of the mellow presentation, the song is highly melodic and enjoyable; with a swaying feel that captures you in its vibe. Kim Coupe capably takes the mic for "Maybe We Will", a mix of space age rock and Jimmy Buffet with a mellow vibe. Something just doesn't quite click here, but many of the elements work. "White Horses" is catchy, Abba-esque vocal dance pop. Vocalist Joanne Wilkinson has a pretty voice that bounces around nicely here, even if the production occasionally gets in the way.
"No Leaving Today" blends Americana and rock n roll in a sweet and smooth blend. Jaycie infuses pleasant harmonies into both the instrumental and vocal arrangements, ala the Eagles, but with a mischievous R&B backbeat. Tuneola gets spry and slinky with "Ride Your Psychedelic Scooter To The Beach Young Man", an early 1970's rock instrumental where the synthesizer takes charge with a melody line that wags its finger in your face. "A Tadpole Short Of A Pond" is an interesting look at either a mystic man or a nut job, depending upon your perspective. Crosby, Still and Nash style harmonies and a vibrant arrangement makes this a fun listen.
"Too Much To Do Today" advocates letting go of day-to-day responsibilities to enjoy life a little bit while engaging in a bit of Graceland era Paul Simon musical style. This one is fun and full of a light energy that's irresistible. "Politician" is a tongue in cheek look at the virtues of politicians, told from the perspective of one telling the truth for once. The layered instrumentation and angular, edgy feel of the song fit perfectly to the subject matter. "Just A Game" sounds like it might have come right out of a Psychodots (aka The Bears minus Adrian Belew) recording session. Jaycie imbues the arrangement with tremendous energy and movement in a story about changes in perception and changes in reality. There's some serious boogie-country in this song's genes, as evidenced in the virulent chorus.
"Hey Nonny No" is a joyous tune celebrating divorce in spite of all that he's lost. The bouncy and fun country/rock arrangement finds him amidst the revelation that she got all the stuff but he got his freedom. "The Return Of Eddie Shoes" is a funky instrumental that works in a faux horn section (synth); a light musical snack that's entertaining and works as great setup to the big close. Retrospective bows with "Jingle Bells Ain't What It Used To Be", a catchy light disco number about how Christmas doesn't mean as much as it used to. Kim Coupe is back in the driver's seat on lead vocals, and handles the duty adeptly.
Tuneola's Retrospective is a look back on the song-writer Aaron Jaycie once was. It's good enough to make you hope that however his future songs develop; he doesn't lose the energy and inspiration that make this such a fascinating listen. Aaron Jaycie walked away because he hadn't achieved the goals he set for himself by the age of 30. Retrospective proves that this says more about the music industry in general than it does about Tuneola. This one's a keeper.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Tuneola at http://www.rnjcmusic.com/. Retrospective is available from Amazon.com as a CD or Download. The album is also available from iTunes.