What do you get when you take bluegrass music as far as it can go? The answer, as is probably obvious, is an album by Alan Jeffries. His latest, Coffee ‘Til Midnight, is so bluegrass that it’s one of the few albums written about here that doesn’t need a hyphen when talking about its genre of music. It is bluegrass as fuck, to be blunt.
Those looking for an entry into the genre might not find this the easiest album to start out with, but for those with a bit of bluegrass under their belts, they will find a lot to love on this album. Jeffries has a great backup cast of musicians, including David Myles, who contributes some baritone vocals, and Kyle Cunjak, doing vocals and bass. And no bluegrass album would be complete without banjo (Calvin Deleavey), mandolin (Ron Girouard) and fiddle (Ray Legere).
The album is a mix of traditional songs, covers and a few originals by Jeffries. One of those originals is the title track, a song about a man who hates his watered-down coffee, which isn’t like the watered-down coffee his lover used to make. His coffee now is watered down by tears. Thus the chorus: “Coffee ’til midnight/Tears until dawn.” The rejected man knows his heart is broken but won’t do anything.
There’s lots of tracks that aren’t as melancholy, such as the insanely catchy “Hot Corn Cold Corn,” which repeats itself frequently, enough to get the first verse firmly lodged in one’s head for a good period of time. The covers of “John Hardy” and “Sitting On Top of the World” are crazily upbeat and will no doubt inspire many a hoedown at Jeffries’ live shows.
“Bookworm” is an instrumental original track and features a nice, subtle blend of instruments that helps to further show the strength of both Jeffries and his backing band. There’s a bit more room for melancholy with “Big Spike Hammer,” featuring a man who works all day but it isn’t good enough for his woman, and “House Carpenter,” which features a line that sums up the entire song “You were married to a house carpenter and your heart will never be mine.”
Drinking coffee until midnight is a terrible idea unless you’re as brokenhearted as the character in the the album’s title track. And even then it’s probably still a bad idea. But listening to Coffee ‘Til Midnight may be a pretty good choice indeed.
Top Tracks: “Hot Corn, Cold Corn”; “Coffee ‘Til Midnight”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)