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Jimmy Jax Pinchak – Blue On Arrival

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Jimmy Jax Pinchak – Blue On Arrival 

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The blues has a hard way to go in these modern times. Outside of Joe Bonamassa and maybe a couple of others, none of the genre’s performers can boast about mainstream relevancy and the music’s cultural significance has long been reduced to little more than a legacy from earlier times. None of this, however, compromises its inherent aesthetic merit. The blues has called to performers for nearly a hundred years thanks to its possibilities for meaning and humor, its relative simplicity, and its longstanding theatricality. Taking all of these factors into account, it isn’t hard to understand why Jimmy Jax Pinchak, a onetime child actor still landing high profile roles in television and feature films, found his way to the blues. His talents at merely twenty years old are astonishing and his second album, Blue on Arrival, is strong evidence that Pinchak may soon be sharing company with popular performers like Bonamassa.  

His debut, Make It Better, might have been considered a one off, but Pinchak lays those fears to rest immediately. The opener, succulently titled “Murder”, comes off as a bit overwrought at times, but fiery six string work redeems any potential flaws. This is guitar playing as a Statement, resonant, and obviously well versed in the genre. Hammond organ, thumping bass, and yet more fire breathing guitar blows “Hit My Stride” wide open. Pinchak’s vocals, however, easily compete for the listener’s attention – he’s mastered a gritty singing style that never sounds forced or histrionic. The bubbling wah-wah near the song’s conclusion is particularly inspired. His slide guitar laced cover of Robert Johnson’s seminal “Crossroads Blues” is a risky proposition. Tackling covers of legends can either be a bracing or daunting experience, but when two legends, Johnson and Eric Clapton, have such an iconic hold on a song, the daring to take it on is enhanced. Pinchak isn’t too reverential. Instead, he elongates the vocal melody in subtle ways and the chaotic, dark as midnight slide work feels inflamed with brittle, white-hot desperation and grief.  

“Poison” is a slow burn blues, the sort Albert King used to specialize in, and Pinchak milks every bit of drama and tension inherent in the tune. The gravitas in his voice has developed tremendously since his first album and it revitalizes his restating of traditional blues imagery. Another slow blues, “I Can’t Stop”, ranks among the album’s best showcases for Pinchak’s ability as a soloist. Barroom piano distinguishes the superb “Best I Could”, but Pinchak’s voice is once again well suited to matching the music’s emotional intensity. Clever songwriting ends the album with the acoustic blues “Stuck in Glue”. Pinchak sinks his teeth deep into the witty lyric and, by song’s end, Pinchak has proven his compelling mix of originality and homage is nearing its peak potency. 

Blue on Arrival reminds us of the strengths so present on his debut while building on them with startling focus and fluent musicianship. Jimmy Jax Pinchak is a remarkable vocal, lyrical, and playing talent who is just now hitting his stride. The peak is yet to come, but Blue on Arrival will linger in the memory for a long time to come.  

9/10 stars.  


Jason Hillenburg

© James Pinchak 2012