As a visual artist, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, native JD McPherson is well versed in the process of working within clearly defined formal parameters, and he employs a similarly rigorous discipline with his music. On Signs & Signifiers, McPherson’s seductively kickass debut album, seamlessly meshes the old and the new, the primal and the sophisticated, on a work that will satisfy traditional American rock ‘n’ roll and R&B purists while also exhibiting McPherson’s rarefied gift for mixing and matching disparate stylistic shapes and textures. Never has an album of so-called “retro” music been laced with such a rich payload of postmodern nuance… But that was precisely the intent. Of course, pushing the genre envelope doesn’t work unless the artist has the chops and feel to capture the form in its pure state to begin with. Check out, for example, “Dimes for Nickels,” McPherson’s vital evocation of the very moment when R&B and hillbilly music had a baby and they called it rock ‘n’ roll, or the Jackie Wilson-meets-Elvis exuberance of “Scratching Circles,” or the lascivious ecstasy of the Little Richard doppelganger “Scandalous.” This cat is wicked-clever—and man, can he ever deliver this righteous shit.
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