‘One Eye Open One Eye Closed’ from Jimmy Livingstone - images, encounters, intimates and places(February 06, 2013)
Yearning to experience the American Dream? Fascinated by the enticement of ‘road movies’? Entranced by a sunrise over the promise of a new horizon? Then take a seriously long time to soak up the experience, emotion and rich vein of Americana that flows through the work of Jimmy Livingstone and his album ‘One Eye Open One Eye Closed’. Aside from the indelible richness of voice, alluring melodies and sharply discerning lyrics this album offers tales of life told with terrifying truth ... and damn fine it is too.
From a Midlands childhood, through the lights of London, to the highs and lows of America finally winding up in the Mojave Desert, Jimmy has crammed his years with a wealth of experience and incident. Add a hint of personal ecstasy and songwriting revelation after surviving a high-speed car crash and you glimpse the trajectory that led to this album.
Each track on ‘One Eye Open One Eye Closed’ becomes a movie for your ears – filled with images, encounters, intimates and places. And as they project their story into your head you find yourself living that road trip. From the mellow opener ‘Getting By’ filled with relaxed acceptance, through the more sombre, string-filled depths of ‘The Waiting Room’ complete with its sense of resignation and the pulsating guitar-driven drive of ‘Useless Man’ to the simple piano-led understanding conveyed through ‘In Your Own Sweet Time’ this album grips from the first.
To my ears the honours of ‘top tracks’ are shared: the electric country of ‘Desert Song’ with its infectious hook and catchy lyrics: “I don’t need to blow my brains away, I’m not that rock and roll. My mind is so wide open they could fall out on their own” (great lines) – and the power of‘Long Time Coming’ which pretty much sums it all up with its mournful and somewhat resigned view of fate.
Co-produced and mixed by Eric Liljestrand, joining Jimmy (acoustic guitar, piano, electric piano, vocals) through various tracks on ‘One Eye Open One Eye Closed’ is a remarkable catalogue of musicians. This includes Doug Pettibone and Adam Phillips (electric, acoustic and national steel guitars) Doggen Foster and Pat West (electric guitar) Evan Jenkins (drums) Matt Round and Arnulf Lindner (bass) Jim Lang (Hammond organ) Butch Norton (percussion). The Frank Zappa brass section: Bruce Fowler (trombone) Albert Wing (saxophone) Lee Thornberg (trumpet). String section: Satolo Fukuda, Gita Langley and Guillem Calvo (violin) Hannah Marshall and Arnulf Lindner (cello) plus Kirsten Mooney and Gia Ciambotta (backing vocals).
‘One Eye Open One Eye Closed’ releases on 10 March 2013 – I recommend you do yourself some good and get a copy.
Reviewer: Tom Franks