Reading lots of press about John Wesley Coleman can lead you in the exact wrong direction. You can’t really label a guy a trashcan troubadour; that sort of attitude will definitely give you the wrong impression of the tunes at hand. Bad Lady Goes to Jail definitely has a layer of filth attached to it, but beneath it all you can tell there are some crystal clear melodic sensibilities. You won’t have to dig too far to find your first gem, so get ready right away.
Kick off this record the right way, and you’ll find one of the best tracks, though that’s up to personal tastes. “Bad Lady Goes to Jail” has this scuzzy guitar line discordantly jangling in the forefront, while a piano line tinkers in the back. Coleman’s voice isn’t hurried, and you’ll find an underlying gentleness, showing that despite his grit, the guy still has some restraint. Opening minutes of Bad Lady Goes to Jail continue within the first few tracks, and “Lazy Baby” has a little of that garage twist and shout feeling to it, almost giving you a bit of swing. The chorus has some emphatic shouts, but everything in the early moments has John Wesley Coleman killing it.
Of course, this album isn’t all gritty pop ditties, there are still some garage filters going on, though one would be likely to say that they’re not quite as successful as early offerings on the album. “Ooh Basketball” has a nice little guitar line to it, one that fits everything, but the vocals have a bit too much distortion on the front end, and the lyrics are slightly lacking, at least for the tastes of some individuals. Let’s just say, the depth doesn’t run too deep with several of the tracks here and there, even though musically, Coleman still seems to be doing all the things we know and love. Who knows, maybe the guy just wants to have fun, so we can’t knock that.
One of the songs that will really surprise you, at least in its straightforward approach is “Go Baby Go.” It’s got this incredibly lackadaisical wandering to it, and the fact that the majority of the song has minimal production, really gets to you. With all the itsy bits of noise here and there, this song comes out of nowhere. Surely this is one of the stand outs, hiding quietly in the middle of Bad Lady Goes to Jail. Along with “Something in My Brain Wants Something,” you get a bit of relaxation, a brief stop off on the records confrontational approach to songwriting. Their more subdued, and in placing them properly in the middle, it’s the perfect opportunity for you stop, go back, and find your favorites.
Clearly John Wesley Coleman has something special about him, as you will discover when listening to Bad Lady Goes to Jail. He operates in a certain genre, yet its easily drawing from all over the charts, making this effort a lot less static than other releases that you’ll find. His ability to weave all these influences into one album, let alone one song, is what gives JWC a nice step above the rest, making this a great destination for your listening pleasure.
Download: John Wesley Coleman – Bad Lady Goes to Jail [MP3]