Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Veteran singer-songwriter Garland Jeffreys titled his 2011 comeback album, The King of in Between, after a recording hiatus of more than a dozen years. He wears the title proudly, and it fits him perfectly – and not just in regard to his multi-ethnic, African American/Puerto Rican heritage, although he addressed that directly in concert last month with his own personal anthem, “It’s What I Am,” a slow-burning ballad that featured the lyric, “Too white to be black, too black to be white.”
No, The King of in Between also refers to the far-reaching range of musical genres that he embraced in front of the sold-out, standing room only, Friday night crowd at WAMC-FM’s The Linda. He shifted gears effortlessly from the blues boogie of “‘Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me” to the reggae sing-along of “I May Not Be Your Kind” to the Spanish Harlem stroll of the exquisite “Spanish Town” to the jazz-flecked soul-stirrer “Any Rain” to the straight-up rock ‘n’ roll call to arms “Wild in the Streets.”
Jeffreys never fit neatly into any musical pigeon-hole, but it seemed as though every musical style that he served up at The Linda, fit him like the tight black sparkling shirt that he wore. The raw, buzzing blues of “Truth Serum” (the title track of his latest album) was as convincing a sermon as “The Contortionist,” a captivating urban stroll through dark city streets that Jeffreys dedicated to the late Lou Reed, who was his friend since their student days together at Syracuse University.