On Second Thought: JaR – Scene 29 (2008)

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It’s amazing how many artists look back for inspiration while their mentors have moved forward. A good example is the recently reviewed project from the band State Cows called The Second One. State Cows leans heavily on the early ’90s sounds of Jay Graydon. Of course, Graydon and his JaR partner Randy Goodrum continue to move forward.

Goodrum has co-written songs for Toto, Steve Lukather, Dave Grusin, Judy Collins, Chicago and Al Jarreau among others. Of course Goodrum is an accomplished keyboard player and singer in his own right. Graydon is a first call session guitarist. His work on Steely Dan’s “Peg” is legendary but that only touches the surface as he’s featured on the new State Cow’s CD and other albums over the last 40 years too numerous to mention. Gaydon is also a Grammy award winning producer of Al Jarreau and long time collaborator with Bill Champlin and David Foster.

When Graydon and Goodrum decided to get together in their spare time to record Scene 29 under the moniker JaR (which stands for Jay and Randy) the expectations were high. JaR exceeded the expectations. This is despite the fact that most of Scene 29 was recorded in two separate locations with Goodrum and Graydon digitally sharing tracks. The recording process still produced a cohesive, inviting and downright fun and contemporary album!

Randy Goodrum handles the lead vocals and has a strong emotive voice. The lead off track, ” Cure Kit” (also composed with Tim Hosman) is my favorite. The track effectively tells the tale of a man and what he uses to keep it together and deal with a failed relationship. The Fender Rhodes-like keyboard is effective and the fretless bass is wonderfully played and fits nicely with the Steely Dan-like drum track. Who comprises the rhythm section? Goodman and Graydon.

Their synth programming for all the tracks is perfect. Even more fascinating given that Goodrum was recoding his parts in Nashville and Graydon in Los Angeles. The other tracks tend to be mid to fast tempo, but lyrically evoke Steely Dan in their turn of a phrase and imagery. Make no mistake this is all first quality AOR, but my favorite tracks in addition to “Cure Kit” are “Your Heartbreak” and the fantastically innovative title track, “Scene 29.”

Hard to believe this album came out in 2008. JaR has been working on a follow-up in their spare time between their “day jobs,” but it has been slowed by Jay Graydon breaking his elbow. I wish him a speedy recovery for only partially selfish reasons.

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Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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