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Jamie Saft: Loneliness Road

Doug Collette By

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Much of Iggy Pop's early notoriety in his days with the Stooges was predicated on shock value. These days his durability and longevity as an artist render his continued presence only slightly less startling: the seminal punk-rocker is hitting his seventieth decade, a milestone few might've forecast for him around the time of Raw Power (Columbia, 1973). Multi-instrumentalist and composer Jamie Saft is no doubt aware of this dynamic because he has his own predilections to confound, which is no doubt why, on one of his otherwise most accessible albums-that of a piano trio-he invites Pop, nee James Osterberg, to appear on three cuts and inject the stentorian tones of what sound like nothing so much as his (Saft's) alter ego.

The otherwise tranquil air Saft conjures up with his estimable counterparts, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bobby Previte, is well-established before Pop appears on "Don't Lose Yourself." The mellifluous likes of the three preceding numbers, including "Little Harbor," isn't all that different around and behind the sound of Iggy's voice, so the contrast couldn't be more dramatic or potentially compelling: the guttural, near-spoken vocal concludes on the note of the song's title.

It's as if Saft (for whom the song might well have been written as aesthetic counsel to encourage his wide- ranging creative output) deliberately wants the listener to listen close and contemplate the sentiment. Of course, it's barely seconds til the next track commences in a bright sojourn titled "Henbane." But this track is over almost as soon as it commences: as with all twelve tracks here, Saft, Swallow and Previte swiftly yet ever so briefly engage with each other, penetrate the material and bring their performance to a swift, yet complete conclusion.

Three more cuts ensue, including the more somber likes of "Pinkus," before Iggy Pop appears again on the second of the three tunes co-written with Saft, "Loneliness Road." In its placing as ninth in the song sequence, separated from the aforementioned initial vocal cut and just two removed from (the third number of its kind), the quietly liberating likes of "Everyday," it'd seem Saft and Pop—whose verbal contributions were spontaneous single takes after pre-session prep work— have engaged in am implicit dialogue on independence, cushioning their strict assertions with the jaunty swing of this titletune.

Certainly applicable in a creative context, and strictly as it applies to Jamie Saft, such an interpretation is certainly open to rumination beyond that single track as well. And it's not necessary to be an iconoclast such as Jamie Saft or Iggy Pop to have the curiosity piqued either, though with the name of this album Loneliness Road, there's a definite sense all four principles involved, each of whom has steered an individualistic course in their lives and art, aren't suggesting such a path is as easy as the glib cliché 'One day at a time...'

Or is that exactly what they're saying, albeit without the self-satisfied attitude? The evocative likes of "Nainsook" certainly offers a provocative setting for such reflection, if only because, with Saft patiently traversing the keyboard of the acoustic piano, Swallow, then Previte, wait patiently to enter at the precise moment that allows them to most sensitively aid in the affirmation of that moment of arrival, as well as in punctuation of the statement the leader just made.

This ad hoc trio are comfortable enough in their own collective skin to take all the time necessary to find their bearings on "Unclouded Moon;" wave after wave of generally gentle crescendos eventually coalesce and crystallize, most appropriately, just prior to "Gates:" like the rest of this idiosyncratic album, this penultimate number can easily function as the soundtrack for meditation, but only the most probing kind and only for the most honest soul-searchers.

Track Listing: Ten Nights; Little Harbor; Bookmaking; Don't Lose Yourself; Henbane; Pinkus; The Barrier; Nainsook; Loneliness Road; Unclouded Moon; Gates; Everyday.

Personnel: Jamie Saft: piano; Steve Swallow: bass; Bobby Previte: drums; Iggy Pop: vocals (4, 9, 12).

Title: Loneliness Road | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: RareNoiseRecords

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