The Baptist Generals Do Their Own Thing with Jackleg Devotional to the Heart
Much of the conversation about the Baptist Generals' Jackleg Devotional to the Heart, the 10 years-in-the-waiting follow-up to the Denton, Texas-based band's Sub Pop debut, No Silver/No Gold, has centered on exactly what singer/songwriter Chris Flemmons was doing during the decade-long stretch of national inactivity.
Scogin Mayo The Baptist Generals: jump up/jump up/and get down.
In this week's issue of the New Times, Glenn BurnSilver sums it up in an interview with Flemmons: "There's a bit of a misconception, [in which] people think I worked on the album for 10 years. What happened is I shelved the record in 2005, and then I got involved in some development politics [in Denton.] That ended being about two and a half years. Then I was involved in starting a music festival in Denton and that ended up taking another three and a half years. Really, the album was just delayed 10 years."
With the 10-year break accounted for, Flemmons is glad the discussion is finally turning to his new record's content. Not that he's comfortable with the alt-country/Americana tag most of the reviews are slapping on Jackleg.
"All I know is that I've always had misgivings about folk music and Americana and stuff," Flemmons says. "I didn't want to do stuff that was in the same vein as anybody else, so I was trying to do my own thing."
Jackleg Devotional to the Heart might as well be a 12-song treatise on "doing your own thing."
If there is a "country" pulse to the record, it comes from Flemmons' distinctly battered croon, a weird, high-lonesome thing that feels undeniably Texan. But musically, it's anything goes. "My O My" opens with a soundtrack ready orchestra swell, dabbles in AOR noodling, then breaks down into an emotional sing-along. There's tight, compact rock, too, like the propulsive "Dog That Bit You," bolstered by a subtle brass-and-strings arrangement and a middle-finger salute of fuzz-boxed electric guitar.
"All these things come from different places," he says of the record's diverse palette. "We all have really broad tastes, and each one of us is not glued to one particular genre. Maybe some of us have favorites; like [multi-instrumentalist] Peter Salisbury's favorite music is Jamaican and ska. We all have this broad sense of music. I listen to a lot of tropicalismo, and spare electronic experimental stuff. Culturally, that's there. I think this album is more listenable than anything we've ever done."