Many artists have tried to capture the spirit of classic rock n’ roll, harnessing the energy and beats of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Bo Diddley. JD McPherson is one of the few artists doing it and producing memorable songs in the process.
Take the title track and lead single, “Let the Good Times Roll”. JD takes a familiar song title, and reinvigorates it as a rousing anthem all his own. It helps that McPherson has a soulful enough voice to match the style of his sound. It’s the voice and horns that keep “All Over but the Shouting” from sounding like a dull trope. “Everybody Talking About the All-American” is blast of energy, rough vocals and melodic guitar tones.
He also admirably explores darker and more romantic tones throughout the album, though not wholly successfully. “Bossy” is one of those darker tracks, infusing a bit of angry blues and banjo into his normal set up. “Bridgebuilder” is a throwback slow-dance song, with sweet vocals, but in this case a bit more edge could have been used to keep the track from becoming too sleepy. “Precious” is a better example of McPherson mixing the pretty with captivating.
McPherson is strongest when he’s channeling the likes of Berry and Little Richard, harnessing that energy on blazers like “It Shook Me Up” and the surfy “You Must Have Met Little Caroline?”. McPherson also knows how to incorporate backing vocals to strong effect, adding appropriate “ooooos” and “aaaahs” to fill out the sound of various tracks.
Check out his Letterman performance: