It’s the truth behind what an artist does – and the way they choose to do it – that defines their art. And while the ways in which audiences get their music has changed, the reasons why a certain kind of artist makes music have remained the same. Call it an uncompromising commitment, an inspired confidence, or just the need to share with and connect to those who listen. For Jeff Black, it’s what’s continued to build a career like few other singer/songwriters in the business. It’s how he’s grown one of the most fervent grassroots followings anywhere. And it’s why Plow Through The Mystic is his most musically and emotionally resonant album yet.
“I feel like I already have the brass ring in my pocket, just being able to nurture this thing that I’ve wanted, this need to observe and relate, since I was 10 years old,” says Jeff. “But I had to ask myself, ‘What’s the best way to do it now?’ Over the past decade, I’ve learned that I’d have to make changes in how I create music and put it out there. And I’ve never really opted to do this much on an album on my own.” Plow Through The Mystic – produced and recorded by Jeff in his own Arcana Studio – delivers a richly textured yet always intimate canvas of guitars, piano, banjo, keyboards, bass and percussion all played by Black, with contributions from longtime friends like mandolin legend Sam Bush, resonator guitar master Jerry Douglas, and vocals by fellow formidable singer/songwriters Matraca Berg, Gretchen Peters and Kim Richey. The album’s 14 songs traverse personal paths of love, faith, doubt and spiritual grit, bound by tones of folk, blues, fiery execution and gentle hush. It’s a collection that plays from the heart, cuts to the soul, and reaps truths that only Black can sow.
Jeff’s four previous acclaimed albums, numerous indie-film soundtracks, fan-sponsored tours and a catalog of songs covered by artists as diverse as Alison Krauss, Waylon Jennings, BlackHawk and Dierks Bentley have forged his reputation as a road warrior and songwriter’s songwriter throughout the Alt-Country, AAA and Folk fields. His pioneering podcast ‘Black Tuesdays’ – glowingly profiled by NPR in 2005 and subsequently copied by numerous performers – constitutes 100+ downloadable EPs that continue to grow both his live audiences and record sales. It’s a unique melding of old-school touring and new-digital content, creating a community of devout fans who have in turn made Plow Through The Mystic possible. “I was lucky a long time ago to realize that as an artist in these times, I need to stay in touch with the people who come to listen to my music and pay their hard-earned money to see a live performance. And I think that has to with everything I try to say in my songs,” Jeff explains. “This new record only comes out of the gate ‘in the black’ because of my audience’s sense of what something is worth to them. I’m an ‘independent artist’ only by industry definition. I am honored to live in my little village, since apparently that’s what it takes.”
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