J.M. Clifford — Trains, Thinkin’ and Drinkin’

As if the title of his new album wasn’t evidence enough, J.M. Clifford proves to be an individual of varied intent. A singer, songwriter, guitarist, and music educator from Brooklyn, New York, he shares a sound that draws equally from bluegrass, folk, and abject Americana. Having reaped widespread praise on the heels of his debut album, On A Saturday Night, he shows off both his verve and versatility on this, his sophomore set, courtesy of a vibe that veers from uptempo instrumentals to beautiful balladry. Yet regardless of the whatever tack he takes, his music comes across as consistently expressive and instantly embracing.

An able cast of support musicians, including producer Ron Pope, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (fiddle), Seth Taylor (guitar), Jeff Partin (dobro), and Jeff Picker (bass) contribute to this particular effort. Working in tandem, they create a sound that’s consistently emotive, expressive, and fueled with wisdom and understanding. That’s evident at the outset, courtesy of Complicated Man, an upbeat affirmation of faith and assurance. That picking and precision also shines on Billy Goose, Old Brown Shoes, and the title track that comes at the end of the album. In the process, Clifford leaves no doubt as to his aim and expression. Consequently, the more emotive entries such as Sunburnt Shoes, Raised in the Ashes, and On My Mind convey tender tones that leave a marked impression.

Ultimately, as the title implies, Trains, Thinkin’ and Drinkinfeatures a number of disparate elements, not only reflecting Clifford’s varied approach, but also a knowing sensibility in terms of specific songs and styles. He manages to reflect and rejoice practically simultaneously while making a seamless transition from track to track.

As an elementary school teacher, he likely excites and educates his students as a matter of form, but as an artist and entertainer, he’s doing the same for his audiences as well. A superb songsmith, Clifford clearly has something to offer us all.

Share this:

About the Author

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman has been a writer and reviewer for the better part of the past 20 years. He writes for the following publications — No Depression, Goldmine, Country Standard TIme, Paste, Relix, Lincoln Center Spotlight, Fader, and Glide. A lifelong music obsessive and avid collector, he firmly believes that music provides the soundtrack for our lives and his reverence for the artists, performers and creative mind that go into creating their craft spurs his inspiration and motivation for every word hie writes.