Junior High (EP)

Junior Brown

Curb Records, 1995

http://www.juniorbrown.com

REVIEW BY: Jedediah Pressgrove

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/25/2009

Junior Brown’s vocal on “My Wife Thinks You’re Dead” is goofy reassurance that he doesn’t give a damn. He has that good ole boy thing down. Playful indifference to an affair. That alone makes the song fun, but Brown’s guitar playing is delightful (even if his playing is as simple as Stevie Ray Vaughn or Jimi Hendrix gone country). The man has a guitar with two necks and the bottom one is a lap steel axe, so he had better play well.   

Actually, I probably wouldn’t have cared if Junior High sucked. First, it’s an EP. I certainly don’t care if an EP sucks. Five songs. That’s it. If all of them are horrible, I just think, “Well, they weren’t confident enough to put this on a real album,” and tuck it away somewhere dark and guilty. Plus, I haven’t listened to many EPs in the first place. Am I qualified to write a review on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Junior High? Legitimate question, but I won’t answer it. Second, I paid $5 for the CD, which is “Suck away for all I care” in asshole consumer slang. Third, I don’t mind owning a CD with songs titled “My Wife Thinks You’re Dead” and “Sugarfoot Rag,” even if it is an abomination as a whole.

And speaking of “Sugarfoot Rag,” I would have been disappointed if the whole album played its game. It’s not a bad song, but it is an instrumental meant to shed light on what Brown can do with the guitar. Yeah, you’ll hear Vaughan and Hendrix stuff sprinkled throughout “Sugarfoot Rag” (Brown gets obvious at the end when he hits a couple of opening chords from “The Wind Cries Mary”), but you know you’re listening to a different player. Alright, I like the song, but what am I supposed to say? If you don’t care about guitar solos, it’s garbage.

“Highway Patrol” and “That’s Easy For You To Say” set the tone for the EP. “Highway Patrol” is an upbeat track with Brown singing funny lyrics as earnestly as possible (“If you break the law, you’ll hear from me I know / I’m working for the state / I’m the highway patrol”). I’m also guessing that Brown’s last-second impression of Johnny Cash’s trademark bass vocal is for laughs. “That’s Easy For You To Say” is a serious relationship song where Brown’s lap steel playing is forefront. Would I rather hear Brown’s fun side all the time? Perhaps, but he’s clearly not one-dimensional, and “That’s Easy For You To Say” has a great chorus: “You make it sound just like another lie / With all the meaning of a nursery rhyme / Try to say it from your heart this time / When you tell me ‘I love you.’”

Junior High is a nice cache of songs. You get two funnies, two tearjerkers, and a tolerable session of instrumental masturbation. Maybe it’s my favorite EP now, but who cares? You can’t get burned here.

Rating: A-

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© 2009 Jedediah Pressgrove and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Curb Records, and is used for informational purposes only.