Dave Jordan was the bassist and frontman of the late, lamented Dubyaera local jam band known simply as Juice, but his new band has only been an aggregate of floating musicians until this moment. Yes, the real Neighborhood Improvement Association is finally meeting, creating what he himself hopes will be a new strain of “New Orleans Rock.” Gone is the straight country of his debut, These Old Boots, or the delightfully flippant country rock of the followup, Bring Back Red Raspberry. With this new lineup, Jordan ironically inches just a little bit closer to finding his own voice.
The result isn’t exactly the swampy Tom Petty mutation they claim they were going for, though: In its quiet moments, and they dominate, Jordan’s new group taps into that rootsy sub-genre of ’70s soft-rock that has sly Southern Gothic narration and a delicate, almost spooky touch. It’s the sound running through Matthews’ Southern Comfort to Dire Straits to Atlanta Rhythm Section, and it can’t be a coincidence that the song which feels the most like Poco’s “Heart of the Night” is called “Pontchartrain.”
The opening “Southern Girl” rides an ordinary one-four-five, failing in its attempt to lyrically repurpose “American Girl,” but “This Time Around,” with its fat, crunchy Southern-rock hook and smart-ass take on everything from exes to preachers, comes close to prime Heartbreakers meat-and-potatoes loner rock, as do the shifting moods of a travelogue like “Boot to Your Neck.”
Jordan’s decision to ground everything in fiddle, accordion and organ gives the harder stuff an epic sweep too rare in Americana, and one which nicely sets off his usual Westerbergian view of the world. This one will do. (Now let’s have us a champagne jam.)