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December 14, 2015


New album captures Americana’s heart ’n’ sou
with 11 tracks including ”Better Find a Church
and inspired ”Nature’s Way” cover

The band won press accolades in many languages during its second European tour that covered London, Madrid, Paris, Dublin
and the Netherlands.

NEW YORK, NY — NEW YORK, N.Y. — For Jim Dolan, lead singer, songwriter and guiding force behind JD & The Straight Shot, it’s ultimately the music that calls the shots. The band’s Americana-rooted sound turns fully organic on their latest album, the all-acoustic Ballyhoo!, set for release on January 15, 2016.

The all-American outfit is still basking in the accolades that accompanied its two recent European tours, which saw the band perform successful shows in London, Madrid, Paris, Dublin and the Netherlands. In September they performed a well-received showcase at the 2015 Americana Music Festival & Conference in Nashville, whose prestigious lineup also included the likes of Los Lobos, Lera Lynn, and the Mavericks.

The album took shape in New York and Nashville, with key contributions from the entire group, which also includes guitarist/vocalist Marc Copely, whose vast resume includes work with B.B. King, Rosanne Cash and Buddy Miller; fiddler/vocalist Erin Slaver, who’s played with Rod Stewart, Trace Adkins and Martina McBride; bassist Byron House, a renowned Nashville studio ace who’s recorded with Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton); and Jim Dolan’s son, Aidan, who recently earned a musical composition degree from NYU.

Discussing their creative process while gathered around a table in the hotel connected to Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame — still jazzed from their lively Americana Music Festival & Conference showcase two days earlier — the band members convey a strong, relaxed rapport. In conversation, they easily fill in blanks for one another, sometimes finishing each other’s sentences.

According to Jim Dolan, the decision to go acoustic on Ballyhoo! was a natural one. “We’ve always approached writing songs acoustically, so it made sense to go in that direction,” he explains. “They just sound right this way.”

Copely elaborates: “We were going to a lot of radio stations, and those studios are tiny. So we were just playing acoustically, with just a couple of guitars, fiddle, upright bass, or sometimes just fiddle and two guitars. And we started to realize that that approach was bringing the songs across better than the full electric treatment did.”

The effectiveness of Ballyhoo!’s stripped-down instrumental approach is particularly clear on the infectious “Better Find a Church.” Country legend Rodney Crowell produced the song’s video version, which was recorded in a 100-year-old church; album producer Chuck Ainlay (Mark Knopfler, Miranda Lambert, Jewel) oversaw the version on Ballyhoo! Showcasing Dolan and Slaver’s dynamic vocal chemistry as well as Copely’s distinctive Spanish guitar, the song prompted No Depression to note that it “promises the funky beauty of things to come.”

Most of Ballyhoo!’s songs were written, in various combinations, by the group’s core members, with additional contributions by Chris Carmack (who plays Will Lexington on TV’s Nashville) and Adam Levy (renowned for his work with Norah Jones and Tracy Chapman).

The album’s lone cover is a string-laden reading of Spirit’s 1970 classic “Nature’s Way,” written by the late Randy California. The harmony-filled track is the latest display of Dolan’s lifelong affection for classic rock songcraft; previous JD & The Straight Shot albums contain the band’s versions of Leon Russell’s “Tightrope” and It’s a Beautiful Day’s “White Bird.” The still-topical environmental message of “Nature’s Way” also reflects Dolan’s abiding interest in raising awareness through music.

Ballyhoo!’s acoustic style also allows the band to reinvent a quartet of songs that previously appeared on earlier releases, including the provocative “Under That Hood,” which examines the issues behind Trayvon Martin’s shooting death.

“When we moved to acoustic versions, they were dramatically different than what we’d done on the previous records, and we thought they were worth rerecording,” says Dolan, who adds, “We’re always honing the sound.”

That sound has been described by the New York Post as “bluesy folk,” while characterizing Dolan’s vocals as “reminiscent of Tom Waits and Randy Newman.”

Although the band-members maintain busy, multifaceted careers both in and out of music, JD & The Straight Shot have had a remarkably busy and productive workload of late. In addition to a recent trek to Europe, the band served as opening act on recent tours with the Eagles and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; they’ve also opened for the Allman Brothers Band. Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh produced JD & The Straight Shot’s 2014 album Where I’ve Been.

JD & The Straight Shot have also made a significant mark in TV and film. Copely has appeared in, and coached cast members of, the ABC-TV series Nashville. “Violet’s Song,” a Where I’ve Been track co-written by Dolan and Copely, is on the soundtrack to August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. “Hard to Find,” by Copely and Aidan Dolan, appears in the Bill Murray film St. Vincent. Copely and Adam Levy’s “Midnight Run” is on the Lawless soundtrack, and the band’s “Can’t Make Tears” is the theme song for AMC-TV drama Hell on Wheels.

Their efforts have garnered considerable media coverage in such outlets as the New York Times, Billboard and New York magazine. They’ve also made many high-profile appearances on radio and TV, including WNYW-TV’s Good Day New York, where they debuted “Better Find a Church.”

Though Dolan has pursued his musical passions since childhood, they’ve sometimes taken a backseat to his business pursuits. With JD & The Straight Shot and Ballyhoo!, he’s fully connecting to his first love — and is eager to share that passion.

For him, it really boils down to communication. “Songs touch people,” Dolan says. “Music touches people. It touches me.” You can hear that passion in every track, from the slide-blues of the opener, “Empty” (a one-day-at-a-time song about hitting bottom and climbing back up) to the swamp groove of “Better Find a Church,” the heartfelt plea of “Nature’s Way” and the hopeful eulogy of the closing ballad “I’ll See You Again.” Whether paying homage to Johnny Cash (in “Here He Comes”) or reflecting on the pureness of childhood joy (“Glide”), Ballyhoo! is filled with songs that come from the heart and touch the soul.

Pre-order link:!/id1055051610



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