Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brett Allen and Nick Luka at New Monkey Studio
The news that Jason Boesel, the drummer for rock band Rilo Kiley, had a solo record finished and ready to be heard, came at us this fall, as we entered the first of six barns with our buddies Dawes - traipsing through Wisconsin and Iowa in an unseasonably cold patch of weather. Lead singer Taylor Goldsmith immediately began to stammer on and on about three records in particular - one of them being "Hustler's Son" that his buddy Jason had made and the other two are the unreleased efforts from his former Simon Dawes bandmate -- Blake Mills -- and last was from Luke MacMaster, who lives with the guys in Delta Spirit and records under the name, The Romany Rye. All three, we quickly learned, with a sly exchange via an inconspicuous thumb drive, were incredible, just as he'd said - the warnings were legitimate. And so, as we booked plane tickets to Los Angeles to record with Kris Kristofferson, we felt compelled to call up not just Boesel, but Mills and MacMaster as well, to record sessions with them at Elliott Smith's old studio, in the strip mall district of Van Nuys, California, the day after a sickly windstorm that violently tore branches from their trunks. "Hustler's Son," which is set to be released next month on Team Love Records, is a dirty cowboy boot sitting over in the corner of a small, but cozy farm house, languishing there with warm soles and the calf leather bent over at each boot's mid-section, tuckered out and weak. It's the feeling that comes over one who's just had those tight boots worked off of their cramped feet and there those feel are, finally able to breath and expand out to their normal size. It's a feeling of relaxation - a sort of commitment to it - a desire to be rid of all of the discomfort and shitty holds that any and every day seem to hold over a body. We are supposed to be such a person and we are supposed to be a certain place and do a certain thing and will all of these responsibilities and requirements, something of the man - or something of the woman - seems to get trampled on or lost altogether. The men who roam these dusk and candlelit rooms that Boesel constructs with his penchant for sinewy and warm harmony lines and un-tricked-out country and western, down home guitar playing are men who have a certain part of their heart all aglow at all times, and another undetermined part of it battling with faulty electrical work. The lights fuzz and short out, cutting off the current before allowing it to be restored. There is a wistfulness and a solemn, sober, time-honored reality to the things that Boesel sings about - most of which is a version of looking at the wholeness of what we've become (or failed to become) and seeing where there are holes in the drapes, letting in the speckles of light, or where the cracks are in the windows, allowing drafts to wrestle by. He sings about freedom in a way that feels like it holds a lot of purposefulness and authentic meaning. He sings about the ways that bad luck and good luck twist and pirouette with one another until they're not fighting, but dancing with each other, gracefully and with constant attention of the other's movements. The men on "Hustler's Son," are not wrecked men because they haven't lived long enough. These are relatively young men, with older souls and a sense that they've lived previously, somehow to have gained valuable knowledge - but they are by no means experts at what it takes to get through this life. There are predictions and hunches to go upon, but there is nothing even relatively set to base anything on. Boesel sings on "Getting Healthy (Good Luck)," "Living lazy is a game for the young/Living quiet is the road to heaven/Living dirty's just too much fun," and there's a combination of those arrangements and more in every step that these men make. He makes his characters - with his breezy coasting and his rustic roasting - open up and then you find them to be passing through like the rest of us, just pausing long enough to grab a few things and let a few things go.
Jason Boesel MySpace Page
Team Love Records
Click here to pre-order 'Hustler's Son'