Baby’s got the blues. And summer? Well, sometimes it can be a bit of bummer. The sun rises and sets in a matter of minutes, and most of the time we miss it. Perhaps not rising early enough to catch a glimpse of the beacon light due to sleepiness, or missing the oil painted sky’s focal point on the long drive home. However, for those rare moments when we do take a second look, slow everything down, and witness the sun perform its ceremonial show, I advise taking a listen to Jonah Tolchin’s Clover Lane.
The young New Jersey native possesses a voice that echoes beyond his twenty-one years and into the elder years of true blues. Tolchin’s story behind the name of his debut album is an interesting coincidence relating to his childhood home on Clover Lane in Jersey where he was home schooled after dropping out of high school. Tolchin explains, “I believe in a deeper meaning behind life. This record is a passionate manifestation of the cosmos in perfect harmony. The house I grew up in on Clover Lane is the center of the spider’s web from which the interconnected strands have been woven into these songs and recordings.”
In addition to dropping out of high school, Tolchin, a self-described “rebellious child,” also ran into trouble with the law and fell into depression. During his home schooling on Clover Lane, he honed his guitar skills and delved into Mississippi blues at the influence of his father who had lived there for some time. Tolchin found that this was the honest outlet he needed in expressing himself and dealing with everyday struggles we all have. Building on the blues and acoustics with songwriting, Tolchin surrounded himself with good company while recording the album in Nashville. A lengthy list of collaborators includes John McCauley (Deer Tick), Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson), and producer Marvin Etzioni (Lone Justice) who discovered Tolchin at a show in LA at the suggestion of a friend.
The 11 track album is warm and sincere, showcasing Tolchin’s well-honed acoustic skills and knack for folk blues songwriting. Highlights include a modern Americana “Mockingbird,” getting lost in the twinkling “Diamond Mind” and the snap-your-fingers catchiness of “21st Century Girl” that manages to be nostalgic simultaneously, “Everybody’s got some place to go / What happened to the days we used to take it slow / We were young then.” However, my favorite track on the brilliantly bluesy album is the gentle closer, “I’ll Be Gone,” which strips down to just Tolchin and his guitar on a wood-floored room. “And it’s live, honey, live / Die, baby, die,” he softly sings as an image is painted of a true sunset drive in an old muscle car with tear-stained cheeks and no turning back.
Clover Lane is now available on Yep Roc Records and there’s no excuse not to catch Jonah Tolchin along with a full band at The 5 Spot for $2 Tuesday’s on July 22nd.
– Kimberly B.