Smoking hot, blues-inspired musician Jonah Tolchin deserves a wider audience. Not only are there no bad tracks on his new folk-rock “Thousand Mile Nights” release, he also journeyed all the way to Alabama to record most of the album at legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
A little history about the New Jersey native: discovered by blues icon Ronnie Earl while playing guitar at a record store, Tolchin was later asked to play the Newport Folk Festival. He had just released his first full-length album, “Criminal Man.”
His second album “Clover Lane” – produced by Marvin Etzioni (Lone Justice) – dropped in 2014 to critical acclaim.
Subsequently, his music racked up more than three million plays on Spotify.
On his new album, a deluge of blues makes title track “Thousand Mile Night” a praiseworthy standout. It’s a dark, musical journey featuring choice slide guitar.
Have a listen:
Thousand Mile Night
Said Tolchin in an interview by email last week: “I started playing guitar when I was around 13.”
“About a year later, I met guitarist Ronnie Earl in a music shop in Keene, NH. He invited me to play on stage with him a few months later – I’ve always felt like that was my introduction into the music scene.”
Tolchin’s favorite artists include Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Freddie King, Peter Green, Michael Bloomfield and Ry Cooder. “(Also) Bob Dylan, A.A Bondy, Kris Kristofferson, Will Kindler, Lucas Hamren, Shea Vaccaro, to mention a few.”
“I’m really a guitarist first,” explains Tolchin. “So far, I haven’t showcased that on any of my records – which I plan on changing.”
Particularly stunning is the electric guitar work halfway through “Beauty in the Ugliest of Days.”
“That was my good friend Danny Roaman,” says Tolchin, “he never fails to deliver.”
Title track “Thousand Mile Night” was originally “a semi-fictional narrative,” explains Tolchin, “which turned into more of a reality after we recorded the album.”
“We drove back from Muscle Shoals to Princeton, NJ in one straight shot. When I looked at my phone at breakfast that morning, I saw that we had driven 998 miles. I walked the last two back to my house.”
Another standout track? “Unless You Got Faith” – a bit reminiscent of Bob Dylan & The Band.
“There was a lot of raw power going into this song on everyone’s part,” says Tolchin, We sort of just let loose on it!”
“I think the mixing did have a lot to do with it, both Marvin Etzioni (producer) and I were playing with the faders as we put down a live mix. That’s why you’ll hear different elements coming up and down throughout the song.”
Also especially noteworthy on the new release is Tolchin’s bare bones “take heart” approach on tender opener “Beauty in the Ugliest of Days.”
The powerful, subdued track – about patience and courage – features the expert, understated lead guitar of Danny Roaman.
“It’s up to you to see the beauty in the ugliest of days,” croons Tolchin. Well alrighty then.
Here’s that track:
Beauty in the Ugliest of Days
Let’s hope Tolchin and band make it to the west coast soon to connect with fans in Eugene and Portland.