Jeff German & The Blanktey Blanks release “12 Packs and 8 Tracks and Black & White TV”


September 22, 2015 (Madison WI) – If you were to get lost while driving through a somewhat familiar ghost town, and you happened upon an old white church whose paint was chipping off, Jeff German’s music would be playing inside. His new record, 12 Packs and 8 Tracks and Black & White TV, is a soundtrack not just for the journey but for the experience of being lost. Of having faith not because miracles abound but because it’s the only thing you have left.
Recorded in a small cabin over the course of three days, German says this album is more personal than his first solo release, 2013’s 12 Rounds. German learned the music business in the Cur Dogs and backing the likes of Lydia Loveless, but now he’s grown more confident in his own gifts of story. “The first song I wrote for this record was ‘Texas,’ and it felt different immediately. The lyrics were very personal and relatable. It was a song dealing with forgiveness and despair. The songs continued to come and continued to be very personal,” says German. His vulnerability was never more life-affirming than on “Hang On,” a pleading ballad that soars with Todd May’s backing vocals. Threaded through the whole album is Matthew Wilson’s pedal steel, winsome and masterfully mixed.
All that sorrow doesn’t mean German’s lost his ability to turn out the blue collar rock that built 12 Rounds. “Woodshed,” the debut single from the new record, celebrates music-making and camaraderie among friends. This song’s title describes both a place where music is made an the act of making it. German praises “writing songs and tellin’ lies / the way it oughtta be / hangin’ out in the woodshed with my old friends and me.” Later, “Somewhere Between” excavates the flickering hope that comes with uncertainty, German’s dutiful acoustic guitar driving the beat. Another standout is German’s cover of Fred Eaglesmith’s “Wilder Than Her.” You can easily picture German grinning and shaking his head in admiration of a woman who’s bested him and knows it.
Through it all, the fragility and the fun, German’s voice is brave, especially at its most tremulous. In moments, he channels other Americana staples like Richard Shindell. Like enduring singer-songwriters before him, German has a range of modes, paired with the skilled counterpoint to pull off each of them.
12 Packs and 8 Tracks and Black & White TV is out September 22, 2015 on Slothtrop Records. The album will be available for download via iTunes.
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