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Jon Byrd

Down at the Well of Wishes – 2011 (Longleaf Pine)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Jon Byrd

Quirky. Enigmatic. Interesting. Good. There are several ways to describe this new CD from Jon Byrd. While Byrd is hardly a household name in the homes of country fans, he has been around, but generally in the alt.-country scene. "Down At The Well of Wishes" probably is not destined for the country airwaves either.

If you don't have a niche in your mind for a singer, you tend to make comparisons to figure out where to pigeonhole him or her. If you happen to hear a few bars of A Fond Farewell as you walk down the street, you'll back up and listen to a few bars more, trying to decide if that's Willie you're listening to. It doesn't take long to sort it out, but for just a little while...

Alabama Asphalt is an easy rocker that sounds like a Junior Brown song (Highway Patrol) while he sounds like Mark Knopfler on When It Starts To Rain. But once you get past wondering who he sounds like you're likely to wonder if his music is a reflection of his life. Byrd wrote all the songs (with Doyle Primm co-writing on two), and there's not a happy one on the CD.

I once knew a woman so clean
I had to make her mine
...
I once knew a woman so sad
I loved her from afar
I waited for my moment
To leave her with a scar
...
I once knew a woman so kind
She brought me to my knees
Her heart cut like a razor
So I had to see her bleed
...
I once knew a woman so cold
I saw myself in her

Combine that with haunting music (Dire Straits again) and you'll see clouds obscuring the sun. As blue as the mood may be, though, it is good listening.

The music is country-blues with the emphasis on alt.-country. If your country music base is broader than Price and Wagoner this will prove a good time. Perhaps his last cut says it best: "Waitin' for my days, my days to come along." It sounds like they are here.