Written by Maria Arroyo
“It was paramount that we practiced restraint, to not abandon tradition in the name of originality,” Bradshaw shares when talking about the recording process for his newest project. ‘Less glamour, more nutrients’ was something I reminded myself of every morning over coffee before heading to the studio.”
Helping bring the project to life are musicians Cody Ray (electric, baritone, and lap steel guitar, BGV), Aaron Boehler (bass guitar, BGV), Paddy Ryan (Drums/ percussion, BGV), Philippe Bronchtein (Pedal steel guitar, organ) and Casey Collis (fiddle and banjo), mixed by Jason Weinheimer, and mastered by Alex McCullough.
“My ultimate aim was for this to be a true record of an experience, a capturing of sound and sweat and intention. A human artifact,” recalls Bradshaw. “To bring it into the physical world was essential. I wanted it to live and breathe, to die, to get lost, and then found. I hope that’s what’s heard when it’s spinning in your living room or playing through your car speakers on your way to work. I hope you can hold it in your hands and feel the life we put into it, and I hope you feel it wasn’t in vain or a waste of your time.”
The title track Calico Jim is infectiously catchy and carries tons of fun energy to it. There’s a great vibe that he creates in not only his songwriting, but in the camaraderie of the band performing with him.
Another great energy-driven song is “Dope Mountain.” There’s a lot of movement in this swing-like arrangement they’ve created, while still maintaining a great melodic structure that’s layered with color and emotion. “Hillbilly Possessed” brings a darker side of Bradshaw‘s songwriting to life, which is great for creating more variety in his work. There’s a stronger sense of urgency in his musical delivery which is amplified with his intentional attention to detail.
Bringing to life another incredible vocal performance by Bradshaw is “Jimmy The Cop.” This is another example of a beautifully written song that is heartfelt and as authentic as can be.
His next track, “Sawtooth Jericho,” works well right after the previous track due to how well they complement one another.
“Bodark” is a more somber-sounding track that tells an emotion-filled story, speaking highly to his storytelling abilities, whereas “Foxfire” brings a more upbeat and optimistic energy.
Another show-stopping track is “Guru” in my opinion, is the most memorable track of the album. He manages to add the perfect amount of WOW factor without overselling himself, which keeps the integrity of his authentic sound perfectly intact. His closing track “Pork Belly Blossom” is a calming and perfectly fitting wrapup for Calico Jim. Pony Bradshaw is nothing short of extraordinary as his music is going to touch listeners for a very long time.
“It’s about the relationship between man and nature,” Bradshaw shares with listeners. “It’s about a region connecting with its history and past. Our pasts can teach us how to be better citizens and can provide insight that helps us make sound choices regarding our future as a community.”
Connect with Pony Bradshaw