Jason Welt - The Shop Tapes (Cover Artwork)

Jason Welt

The Shop Tapes (2009)

Cider City

Jason is frontman of Welt and more recently Trackside Poets. This EP was fairly hastily put together before a UK tour. It's Jason's first attempt at a solo/acoustic project and to be honest it's worked out really well. Anybody who has heard his previous bands will not be too shocked by this release ("Novocaine" is given the full-band treatment by Trackside Poets), but it does show another side to his writing.

It's fairly refreshing that the whole album has a back-to-basics approach: a few guitar tracks; vocals; and the occasional pedal steel overdub. In fact, the whole package follows suit. The lyrics are direct without being irritatingly obvious; there is an interesting breakdown of the whole project in the liner notes and even the packaging does what it needs to. All the instrumentation is to the point without extra flair or flourish. That isn't to say the playing is poor -- in fact, the pedal steel playing is tasteful and at no point does it make the songs sound like a desperate attempt at alt-country.

The honesty and delivery is the real deal-breaker. Jason's gruff vocal lines and lyrics combined with tasteful instrumentation give the whole thing an integrity that you can't really synthesize. It's the sort of music you'd want as a soundtrack to a long road trip.

If you're getting into the acoustic/solo project ‘genre' that's having a bit of a run at the moment, this would be well worth picking up. It's a well-thought out, honest, straightforward record. This isn't going to redefine a genre, but that's hardly the point. This is a great start and a really strong EP. My only real criticism is that if this was a 12-15 track album it would need more diversity and it would be great to see Jason take a few more musical risks in the future. He's put together some strong songs and used some tasteful instrumentation and I'm looking forward to seeing how he develops in future releases.