jphono1: Loblolly Boogie 


[Potluck Foudndation; June 14]

Album Release show:

Nightlight, Chapel Hill

Friday, Jun. 21, 9 p.m., $8

“Some of my earliest memories have also been constant in my life. One of these is the loblolly pine tree. … They stop time in stillness, they dance in the flow, and they provide a familiarity with myself I’ve only just begun to notice.”

That’s John Harrison, a local indie-rock legend from bands such as North Elementary and jphono1, writing about the indigenous tree that serves as the title spirit of his new album, which also stops time in stillness, dances in the flow, and, for all its gentle psychedelics, has a warm, easy intimacy. 

Loblolly Boogie explores a mellower side of Harrison’s solo-ish project, jphono1, lacking the rhythm section, The Chevrons, which played on the two prior releases. It does so without compromising the lush riffs and intricate sentimentality associated with the project.

The opening track, “Where Clouds Are Born,” gracefully sets the scene, evoking the collective sway of Southeastern pines in summertime respite; it also captures something of the album’s alert languor: “High above where clouds are born / Steal away into the morn / Everything that’s here is awake.”

On “I’ve Let All My Hair Grow,” Harrison opts for a more poignant pastoral approach, waxing nostalgic while removing a photograph from a frame: “Open up the black-framed off-white grainy film / I’ve let all my hair grow hiding out within.”

Harrison’s simple vocal approach, and the reduction of competing sonic layers from prior jphono1 releases, prioritizes emotional clarity over flash. So does the accompanying book that Harrison, also a visual artist, created with local photographer and musician Kevin Clark, which pairs the lyrics with Clark’s evocative piney photography. 

Together, the music and images capture something vivid and timeless embodied in the familiar tree. “They have always been there with me,” Harrison says of loblolly pines, “and they will be there after I’m gone.”

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