Alt.country debut packs quiet punch
Atlanta’s Jackson County Line camps out at the mellow end of the alt.country spectrum, and the band’s sweet, laidback harmonies and all-acoustic instrumentation conjure the hippie-cowpoke ethos of the early Eagles and Harvest-era Neil Young. But this is no mere exercise in retro nostalgia. Chamber-pop cello and muted trumpet—hardly mainstays out on the trail—are featured prominently, and lead singer/songwriter Kevin Jackson’s reedy, soulful tenor is more indebted to Bill Withers and Dobie Grey than Don Henley. Jackson is also a ?ne writer, transforming the loping “Let Me Ride” into an apocalyptic nightmare and using understatement to devastating effect on the deceptively lovely title track, which chronicles a harrowing night spent in a jail cell because of racial pro?ling. Jackson, who is black, is clearly one cowpoke who has more on his mind than a peaceful, easy feeling. This is a gently moving and disquieting debut.