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americana-uk  November 2023        7/10

Joyful confident album that shows you are never too late to make a start

This current collaboration is between Anderson and two other multi-instrumental musicians Gaby Szabo and Lyle Zimmerman. The result is a delightful, confident album that is a pleasure to experience. His voice has a mellow yet gravelly quality to it. The songs are simple, well-constructed, and have a sage-like quality to them.  You are “known by the tracks that you leave,” he tells us.

In Romeo, he has an imaginary conversation in a bar. It’s a melancholic tale of love that may or may not have been. “I can’t row across the Atlantic or pull rabbits out of my hat. Don’t follow advice, can’t skateboard on ice but I can reset your thermostat”. “You might be my Juliet … but you’ll never know if you go now”. It’s a very simple, touching song with just him on guitar and Szabo’s vocals mixed into the background.  Her contribution throughout really lifts the album and ‘Cimarron Rose’ in which she takes the lead is a lovely upbeat song. The quality and variety of the musicianship throughout is top drawer.

The backstory to this album is interesting. Jackdaw and ‘Ghost in the Big House’ is a collaboration based around the songs of Rob Anderson and born in the backroom of a north London pub.  It is the culmination of a journey that began in the early 70’s in Eugene Oregon where an acoustic trio played the small local venues for a number of years. Fast forward to 2012 when Anderson now 65 and based in the UK via a stint in Paris, wrote his very first song in response to one that was written for him years earlier by his old Jackdaw partner Wayne Drury. “No one was more stunned than I at managing to get one out and it carried on from there”.

Overall, this is a self assured album that definitely deserves attention. You can feel the joy and spontaneity in it which certainly captures the almost live feel it has.

                                                                                                                                              Rick Thorn

Uncut  November 2023        7/10          

Dirt-under-nails Americana from London-based outfit 

Veteran Rob Anderson's roots go way back to early'70s Eugene, Oregon, where he and Wayne Drury formed two-thirds of JackDaw. Drury was subsequently diagnosed with MS, while Anderson moved to Europe and kept the flame burning by performing as The Wayne Drury Project. This second album fronting a new-look JackDaw finds Anderson displaying the croaky intimacy and narrative guile of Ray Wylie Hubbard or Chip Taylor, with echoes of Willie Nelson ("Waiting For"), allusions to Dylan (the terrific "Hiding From Grace") and a couple of nods to his old mentor, particularly Drury's outstanding "Cimarron Rose".                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Rob Hughes

RnR  November/December 2023          


I was particularly looking forward to the new Jackdaw album after I heard the news of the UK Americana band's follow-up to their majestic 2019 No Cactus album (which earned a four-star review here at RNR). Ghost In The Big House sees vocalist and songwriter Rob Anderson leading the charge with twelve new songs to whet the appetite, and graced with artwork presumably borrowed from the National Gallery. 

Such integrity continues via 'New York Central Line', whereas deft fingerpicking instrumentation during 'One More Way To Forget' is the main attraction. Ghost In The Big House is the sound of adversity yet is also a friend that you can rely on. 

                                                                                                                                Nathan Olsen-Haines

The earnest qualities of Jackdaw's songwriting continue, along with Anderson's compelling dishevelled vocals fuelling this approach further, which, in spite of some chilling subject matter, genuinely offers solace and shelter. Despite the lyrical hardship, opener 'Waiting For' emits warmth with an upbeat chorus and spirited backing vocals largely responsible. Imagine Neil Young reworking The Rolling Stones' 'Wild Horses' and that gives a flavour of  the excellent 'Leave Me That', where emotions, along with material possessions, are cast overboard. 

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