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Author: John York

Publisher: Global Recording Artists


I’ve been a fan of John York’s for some time. As I noted in my June 2011 review of his West Coast Revelation, York was an in-demand touring musician who traveled with Johnny Rivers and the Mamas and Papas. Then, he joined the Byrds during their “Easy Rider” and “Jesus is Just Alright” country/rock period. Over the years, he’s worked in various re-groupings of ex-Byrds, toured with Barry (“Eve of Destruction”) McGuire, and released solo projects for Global Recording Artists. West Coast Revelation was one of these solo works, a unique collaboration with the legendary Kim Fowley.

Fanfare for 2 is a smaller scale effort than Revelation, although it too shows how York’s musical experiences have jelled into his current songwriting and performing. You can still hear echoes of the second generation Byrds in his music but, like many a “roots” singer/songwriter these days, there’s a world weariness both in his lyrics and vocal delivery.

In particular, York’s strained, aching vocals perfectly suit the melancholy acoustic folk/country ballads in Fanfare about down and out characters portrayed in a variety of settings. For example, “”Half Moon Bay” is about the sinking of a sailing ship where only one of 17 sailors survive. “Lone Wolf, No Club” is about a lonely night rider, and “Coyote” describes an equally lonesome creature calling out to the singer. Some songs are very personal, like the lost love described in “I Feel It Now,” while others are more philosophic like “Red, White & Blue” which is a haunting portrait of a country that always rewards the rich while waging war.

All of the instrumental support is appropriately lean and spare, with no drums, keyboards, and little of anything electric. “Sea Of Wine” is old-time country where dancing helps end loneliness, and York offers bluesy slide guitar on “You Just Love Cocaine.” The tone shifts with the affirming “Power Of Now” where York sings “all we need is now.” York gets even warmer with his cover of The Four Tops’ “Reach Out (I'll Be There).” But, in short order, we’re back to sad songs. The album closes with “Setup for Heartbreak,” and the title says it all.

Fanfare for 2 is a simple, beautiful album where singer and songs are perfectly matched. If you’re a fan of Leonard Cohen, Dylan, Ian Tyson and all those other folkies, John York will likely be your cuppa tea. John York doesn’t get a lot of fanfare, but he shouldn’t be overlooked especially when he’s issuing work of such quality.

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