Jon Herington – Adult Entertainment (2016)

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I am continuously amazed by Jon Herington as a guitarist. I last saw Herington with Steely Dan on June 11, 2016 in Chicago. His solos were innovative, yet paid appropriate homage to his predecessors. Having seen Herrington at least 25 times with Steely Dan, the Dukes of September and the Madeleine Peyroux trio, the fact that he can create something new each time is a testament to his musicianship.

Unfortunately, what I haven’t seen is the Jon Herington Band. The trio — featuring Herington of guitar and vocals, Dennis Espantman on bass and vocals and Frank Pagano on drums and vocals — do tour in between Herington’s day jobs, but they have not made it to my neck of the woods yet. Fortunately, Herington’s solo LP output has been much more dependable than that of his employers in Steely Dan, and we now have another shining example of his craft with the new release, Adult Entertainment.

While his brilliant 2012 release Time on My Hands, and his 2010 release Shine, Shine Shine, both presented a more straight ahead rock and roll setting, this new album works different musical and lyrical muscles.

“Mind Over Matter,” the opening track on Adult Entertainment, kicks things off with a rousing slide guitar burst that’s buoyed by a jaunty rhythms from Dennis Espantman and Frank Pagano. The song is lyrically carefree, and the music is spry. Steely Dan sideman Jim Beard steps in for a cameo Fender Rhodes solo, and Herington works his magic on the bottleneck guitar. The production by Herington and Espantman is first rate, letting the compositions speak for them self instead of obstructing them.

“No Way No How Not Me” keeps a similar tempo while employing a ’60s country-rock feel with rollicking guitar and a sassy lyric. The ditty is intoxicating. “Slaughtered By Love” finds Jon Herington telling a familiar tale of an emotionally dependent and unhealthy relationship that is instantly identifiable and entirely enticing. Herrington and Espantman, who co-wrote all the tracks on the album, have a knack for making obvious relationship tropes interesting and dynamic.

“Crazy Good” is a great example of ’70s-era country rock, with train-like brush work from Pagano and a pulsating bass rhythm from Espantman. Herington and Pagano provide brilliant harmony during the choruses reminiscent of Squeeze, and it’s easy to forget that Herington is known for his guitar more than anything. Of course, Herington’s fleet-fingered Gibson solo is brilliant, embracing Steven Stills and Dean Parks all at once. Even without Jim Beard’s Hammond B3 on the song, it would have been my favorite track on the album, but Beard is icing on the cake.

“Out On a Limb” is musically more straight forward than “Crazy Good,” but it is no less effective. Jon Herington’s band knows how to do straight-forward rock better than most, tying jangly acoustic guitar, lyrical electric guitar, fine harmony vocals and direct lyrics into a sophisticated song which you can dance to. “Handle Me With Care” closes things with a twisted blend of R&B and ’70s-feeling rock. Herington employs an instrument he rarely gets to use, his vocal falsetto, to tell the story of a man who’s down in the relationship but seems to be OK with it. Steely Dan trumpet man Michael Leonhart provides a spooky horn arrangement and even does a cameo flugelhorn arrangement, while Herington adds a distorted and delayed guitar solo.

Adult Entertainment is just that, with 12 songs of various styles, direct yet evocative lyrics and excellent playing from Jon Herington, Dennis Espantman and Frank Pagano. What more could you ask for? Oh, yeah, how about that tour with your band, Jon?

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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