Big Gold Guitar in the Sky
'It's titled 'Ten-Pack of Years' (as in 'what the hell's a decade but a...), and it's hit me harder than any song I've crossed paths with in '08. The opening couplet -'We used to make love out in the back lawn/Now we're eating dinner with the TV on'- expresses a ten-year ache that the young guy behind the song, Brooklyn-based Jon Itkin, couldn't possibly have faced unless he got hitched when he was 15. Later, after a night of recollection and Nebraska, the protagonist's recurring, wife-directed declaration 'I remember you' becomes filled with the cautious joy of rediscovery. Itkin's voice, old for it's age and backed by mournful pedal steel, sells it all: the despair, the search, and the hope. Elsewhre, Itkin deftly swings ('American Blood'), trucks ('Bismarck'), and soothes ('Sing Rosetta'). He's far from the first singer-songwriter/roots-rocker whose songs pray to Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and Jay Farrar. Not all prayers are answered with such promise.' -Rick Cornell, No Depression 'Before denim went Hollywood and Third World children bloodied their little knuckles wearing out the knees on new jeans so you'd look like you actually did something in them, they were the threads of the working man. Jon Itkin's music is of this denim and wood and wire, and the rust and wear that ensues. Living in Oregon now, this Rochester ex-pat's songs are as lonesome and big sky beautiful as a McMurtry novel. His music speaks of long-gone frontiers and will stop you in your tracks. Damn, this guy is good. It's a cryin' shame Townes Van Zandt and Dave Van Ronk aren't around to dig this cat...' --Frank DeBlase, Rochester (NY) City Paper 'Jon Itkin's whisky-barrel voice and world-weary lyrics belie his tender age. He crafts tales of minimum-wage woe and not-quite-right love and credits Dylan, Cash, Springsteen, Young, Williams (Hank and Lucinda) and Waits, among others, as influences. Using the sparsest phrases, he can make you taste the dust and feel the shredding of your own heart as if you were the subject of one of the 100+ songs he's written since the age of 13. Fans of the melancholy-yet-rockin' world of alt country should take notice of Itkin, but not because he's promising or because he sounds a little like Beck or Wilco. Seek him out because your first listen to his music might give you the feeling you're listening to the next soundtrack to your life.' --Adrienne van der Valk, Eugene Weekly '...perfectly executed mellow Americana...his craftsmanship as a songwriter shines...timeless examinations of human nature.' -Willamette Week 'This smoky-voiced singer/songwriter spins songs whose quiet desperation will leave you reeling in the wake of their country-inspired harmonies and in the loneliness that permeates them.' -The Oregonian 'Jon Itkin is only 24, but you'd never know it from listening to his music. A fiction major with a world-wise voice and a blue-collar aesthetic, Itkin is releasing his second full-length, "Big Gold Guitar in the Sky." Combining the working-class vocabulary of Bruce Springsteen and the troubadour's twang of Townes Van Zandt, Itkin is....a rising talent from which you'll be hearing much more.' -Barbara Mithcell, Portland Tribune Jon Itkin is world-weary old hand in a young man's body. Dubbed a 'rough cut diamond' by the Oregonian, Jon Itkin makes literate, earthy music in the tradition of Americana artists like Johnny Cash and Townes Van Zandt. Itkin's songs are colored by a deep sense of narrative and imagery, a half-empty whiskey glass and a love of words -- The Band and Charles Bukowski are both important influences. Itkin's second album, Big Gold Guitar in the Sky, is an ambitious love-letter to classic American music. Itkin moves effortlessly between textures and styles, paying homage to his musical heroes while forging his own unique voice. Fans of Cash, Van Zandt, Dylan, Tom Petty, Hank Williams and John Prine will enjoy Itkin's backward looking textures and storytelling lyrics. Fans of Bonnie Prince Billy, Iron and Wine, M Ward and My Morning Jacket will appreciate Itkin's commitment to the song, his unique delivery and the spike of irony running through his work. Produced largely by the Eels' Jeff 'Chet' Lyster, Big Gold Guitar in the Sky features incredible performances by Paul Brainard (M Ward, Richmond Fontaine, The Sadies)on steel guitar and dobro, Rich Landar (Richmand Fontaine, Floater, Wanda Jackson) on piano, organ, accordian and mandolin, and Lyster on guitar, banjo and percussion. Those who have heard Itkin's first record, Oregon, will notice Big Gold Guitar in the Sky's thicker instrumentation and 'full band' feel. Itkin chose to record 'Big Gold Guitar in the Sky' in living rooms and basements, using the best musicians available and letting the songs breathe into their fullest potential. The end result is a sound that is classic, simple, rocking, lush, and full. Highlights of the disk include: 'Halfway,' a rollicking, mythological take on the American Small Town, filtered through a big bar-rock arrangement with Itkin providing the stinging, Mike Campbell-esque lead; 'Fool To Wander,' a modulating country-soul waltz discussing mortality, sin and the sweetness of home; 'Devil In Another Man's Hell,' a whicked, Tom Waits-inspired tale of infidelity and war: 'Ten-Pack of Years,' an Americana weeper about fading and returning love, with aching pedal steel and vocal harmonies; 'Sing Rosetta,' a compact epic about love. Desire and the continuing impact of slavery; and the title track, a solo acoustic tribute to Townes Van Zandt and the fleeting, mercurial pleasure of singing a song. Since the release of his debut, Oregon, in 2005, Itkin has been playing barrooms, basements, concert halls and festival stages throughout the Northwest. Performing both solo and with Some Like-Minded Souls, his road band, Itkin has shared stages with roots music purveyours such as Honky-Tonk masters Pete Anderson and Moot Davis, garge-twanger Eddie Spaghetti, hill blues badasses Hillstomp and Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band and many more. Itkin now lives in New York City, playing on both the east and west coasts.
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