“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” So said Aldous Huxley in A Brave New World, one of the most vividly descriptive books I’ve read. Words can also elevate a good song into a great one; a song that embeds itself into your brain and you hear it over and over for days. A self-professed lover of prose, Corin Raymond has put music to lyrics on his latest album, Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams, and proven the sum is greater than the parts.
Under the Belly Of the Night is a tribute to Buddy Holly, Jackie Wilson, and Sam Cooke. Unlike The Day the Music Died, the seminal tribute to Holly’s death, Raymond takes it from the perspective of ordinary decisions and people. “They didn’t want to roll the dice on the icy roads that night”, isn’t perhaps as melodic as McLean, but it’s the kind of decision on which life, and lives, turn. Two Miles Of Train contains the title lyrics as a descriptor of a hobo’s life where “how much luckier could we have been, the junkies moved out and we moved in.
Raymond identifies to sounding a little like John Prine, and I find I most enjoy the songs where he uses that talking-lyrics kind of delivery accompanied by simple guitar or piano parts. Hard On Things is a realization that everything he does seems to have some kind of collateral damage, physical or emotional. Morning Glories is an incredible poem about three residents on the fringe of our society, but rather than coming off as a sad observation it delivers the maxim, “you’re never down and out if you’re down and outgoing.” Rainbed is, well, the first folk rap song I’ve heard–Compton meets Nederland.
Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams is an album that’s best enjoyed when you have some time to sit down and really absorb it. It’s not that it isn’t listenable in the car or in your earbuds out and about, but you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you have the context and can sing along…got them hobo jungle fever dreams again. On a final note, if you download some songs and enjoy them, go buy the CD package. It includes a booklet with all the lyrics, stories of how the songs came about, and even the chord progressions for anyone who wants to play along. There’s so much more here than just songs.
About the author: I've actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I've seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.