Veteran singer-songwriter Jack Tempchin will forever be linked to Eagles and his composition ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ which was instrumental in launching the early 70’s country rock movement into the mainstream. Tempchin continued to work with Eagles over the years on such classic tunes as ‘Already Gone’ and enjoyed continued success in collaboration with Glenn Frey when Frey embarked on his successful solo career. Tempchin has continued to work with Eagles and has credits on 'Hell Freezes Over' and 'Long Road Out Of Eden'.
Tempchin recently returned to the studio with his first collection of new material in nearly a decade on the 4 song EP ‘Room To Run’ and his new album ‘Learning To Dance’. The four songs on the EP were released separately as Tempchin has said they didn’t really fit with the overall feel of the album, which having now lived with both releases for some time makes perfect sense. ‘Learning To Dance’ is an album about relationships and put simply it’s an album of love songs. As we all know only too well being in love tends to take both positive and negative turns….
One of the most interesting things about the album is the input of Joel Piper who produced, recorded and mixed the album. He also played all the instruments sang all the backing vocals and co-wrote two songs with Tempchin. I can only hope that he found time to make the tea…..Piper is best known as drummer / clean vocalist with Metal act Confide. This unlikely alliance of two people from different age groups and musical backgrounds works very well indeed.
‘Learning To Dance’ is silky smooth and would make ideal late-night listening. The overall sound and production sits nicely with Piper adding some more modern bells and whistles to the country / folk songs for which Tempchin is best known. I initially thought it was a little one paced but the songs grow on you and the style wins you over and rewards repeat plays. The title track opens the album with the highly effective work of guest saxophonist Jerry Peterson drawing immediate comparisons to one of best loved songs of the 80’s ‘You Belong To The City’ which Tempchin co-wrote with Glenn Frey for TV show Miami Vice. ‘Nothing With You’ is next up and the gentle refrain of ‘There’s Nothing Like Doing Nothing With You’ highlights a perfectly placed Kim Richey harmony vocal.
‘Love’s First Lesson’ steps things up considerably as Piper brings all of his production and vocal techniques to bear on a track that wouldn’t be out of place on an epic Disney soundtrack. It is highly effective and really does work well but is still quite an unexpected left turn on an album of simple stories simply told. I just wish I could get the images from ‘The Lion King’ out of my head.
‘You Can Go Home’ originally recorded by The Desert Rose Band in 1991 and co-written by Chris Hillman of The Byrds fame is terrific. This melancholic tale of going home but not really being able to go back is a beautiful song with haunting piano matched by a very fine vocal that will now surely reach a new and appreciative audience. ‘Big Sky Country’ is even better as Tempchin recounts the tale of a country boy returning to Montana after a short-lived relationship with a city girl ends. The album concludes with ‘Finally Found Me’ where our protagonist has found, unexpectedly, a place to call home in which he feels comfortable. It is this feeling of home, or at least the essence of what feels like home be it a person or a place, that gives ‘Learning To Dance’ a heart and soul.
The album features an additional bonus track ‘Room To Run’ the opening song on the EP of the same name that I mentioned earlier. This track does a lovely job of recounting the feelings and ideas that are passed on from father to son. The EP continues with ‘Jesus and Mohammed’ which highlights the religious issues of the times in which we live. The other songs on the disc lighten the mood considerably with ‘The High Cost Of Hate (Lets Make Some Lawyers Rich)‘ a caustic, amusing tale of a cheating bastard and a selfish bitch that might be a little close to home for some. The EP concludes with the lazy swagger of ‘Summertime Bum’ all sun, beer and lazing in a hammock.
‘Learning To Dance’ and ‘Room To Run’ are both out now on the Blue Elan Records label.