Deep into his self-described second act of his solo career, Bramblett aims to recreate the literature of the blues with music about nowhere people in nowhere lands. Conjuring equal parts Tom Waits, William Burroughs, and hallelujah chorus, his music again comes alive with this new collection of songs. With a commitment to the story of his characters and the necessary mutation of music, Bramblett has kept his solo career as fresh as the day it began.
This evolving engine of creativity is due, in large part, to the familiarity and bond shared with his bandmates.
“Juke Joint at the Edge of the World is a record that reflects the freedom that my bandmates and I have found in the last few years of playing together.” With an approach that he calls out for being “less analyzing and more fun,” it gently balances the technical prowess along with the passion held in the hearts and hands of each musician.
Moving with mellow evenness and jazzy dissonance, Juke Joint at the Edge of the World impressively combines elements of soul and funk, marrying profound lyrics with toe-tapping melodies — a union which was inspired by Bramblett’s many trips through southern music clubs. “Some of the places we play are like the old juke joints where people dance and shout. From these people and places we find the energy we need to be free to shake the music up.”
An integration of his own history as well as an integration of sound, Juke Joint at the Edge of the World rides in the wake of Bramblett’s previous release, the darkly soulful Devil Music, and finds, especially in its lyrics, a sort of kinship with its older brother. The songs on Devil Music were inspired by addiction, redemption, black music, and gospel and these same themes appear in Juke Joint at the Edge of the World, ringing with clarity and light, an illuminated manuscript in the hands of a fevered storyteller. But this record has more of a live in-the-studio feel to it. “The music is a little freer this time, rooted more in the soul and R&B dance music I grew up listening to and playing. The songs will take you places that make you dream and dance.”
Songs like “Pot Hole on Main Street” feel like an excerpt from one of Bukowski’s more autobiographical pieces while the transporting, deeply sensory “Mali Katra” feels like a scatter-brained dream rich with symbols portending doom or ecstasy. The deep, twisting vortex of nightmare; the dizzying climb towards salvation; and the long, gnarled streets of poverty and affliction are the paths this record travels, finding light to fill the darkness, and darkness to drown the light.
Bramblett’s solo career began in the 70’s with a pair of albums on Polydor Records. Joining the rock-jazz fusion group Sea Level he wrote/co-wrote a number of the group’s songs, including the Billboard single “That’s Your Secret.” Bramblett was approached by Traffic co-founder Steve Winwood in 1988 and spent the next 16 years touring in his band. It was on the road that he wrote new material with reinvigorated confidence and inspiration. Teasing his listener with unexpected humor while fleshing out fully lived-in characters with human ambition and godly stature, Bramblett continued his storied career with a continual pageant of reinvention and true conviction.