OffBeat Magazine Review of “Make It Better”

by Dan Willging

If it’s been a while since you’ve heard the music of Jeremy Lyons, his sonic artistry has changed somewhat since he left New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

He no longer does the retro-roots thing for dancing Southern audiences, but has come full circle to being a folk artist, since Bostonians prefer to listen to thoughtful lyrics than dance to hip beats. It’s a necessary maneuver to stay marketable but it’s also one that works.

On this 11-track affair that features seven originals, Lyons is primarily solo with light accompaniment, allowing vocals and lyrics to be front and center, not buried in a dense arrangement. Many songs, such as “Long Lunch,” “Lazy Susan” and the tuneful “I Don’t Mind the Rain,” are not only dandies but are of the ilk that could have easily been sung by first-generation folkies Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Images of wanderlust prevail and there’s also a hope for bettering society and the plight of the workingman on “When I’m Feeling Better.”

Yet, at the same time, modern elements are also mixed in. A few tunes are not as square tempo-wise but are drifty and lazy; the slinky “Know” features Lightnin’ Hopkins-style licks over a layer of intriguing drumming provided by Morphine’s Jerome Deupree. “Clouds on Her Face” is probably the heaviest, with its tale of a mother and children fleeing from an abusive relationship. It’s natural to cringe with each passing verse, fearing the worst, but in the end, there’s relief.

They’re separated, happy and safe, maintaining a workable relationship with the now powerless oppressor.


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