My Jerusalem is the current delivery vehicle for the spectacularly talented Jeff Klein. He’s been around for a while releasing 3 solo albums, the last of which was ‘The Hustler’, and a fine record it was. It introduced him to the world of Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers fame, with Dulli producing the album, and singing on a couple of tracks. Following that Klein became something of a go-to guy for Dulli, playing guitar and keyboards in both The Twilight Singers and the joint project with Mark Lanegan, The Gutter Twins.
The Twilight Singers connection is notable as a number of touring members of that band began what became the My Jerusalem project between tours, and released the excellent ‘Gone For Good’ a couple of years ago. That album was essentially a vehicle for songs that Klein had already plus some band compositions – check out the excellent ‘Sweet Chariot’.
Preachers is much more of a band effort, it’s also a different band effort, with the band that made the last album having drifted away to other projects, but out of the ashes, etc. They have come back stronger, rawer and leaner. While the brass that was all over Gone For Good is still present on songs like ‘Oh Little Sister’, it is less prevalent; more bubbling under.
Produced by Spoon’s drummer, the album opens with the title track, and it’s a menacing few minutes, a piano leading us down to a dark place, following Klein’s wounded howl screaming “We’re all animals in the well…We’re going to drown in the river.”
As you work your way through the album you get the feeling that he’s not exactly a one woman kind of a guy, but that he’s also been hard done by in love. ‘Devoe’ – sadly not a tribute to Bell and Biv as well, illustrates this in the line “If I could be the one you wanted, not fuck around.” over a lolloping bass line and skittering drums.
Highlight of the album are ‘Born in the Belly’, which is all a whoopin; and a hollerin’ from Klein, all preacher style. His lacerating vocals wrap themselves around lines like “I burn just like your sun” as the band rage away behind him. One of the reasons Dulli kept coming back to Klein was his guitar playing, describing him as playing like “Pimplestiltskin”; I have no idea what that’s meant to mean, but I think it’s a compliment, and it’s all over this album and this song.
The album reaches its conclusions on ‘I Left My Conscience In You’, which starts all quiet with those confessional singer-songwriter chords we all know and love, supported by the barest of string arrangements. However, you can just sense there is something coming, something more; a big finish.
Instruments join in one by one as the song works its way forward like a tributary towards an ocean gathering parts in as it goes from pianos, violins, a bass drum, a bass. It has a Ryan Adams circa ‘29’ feel to it, before a snare announces a shift at 3.30. This is the pay off as guitars start to “rage” – I believe that still happens. It’s like an souped up version of ‘Obviously Midnight’ by Scarce and it’s a great album closer. You’re left shell-shocked by what has just happened. The only answer is to reach out and press play again to make sure you’ were right.
There’s a story, perhaps perpetuated by Klein that as a kid he broke his own arm with a hammer just to see what it felt like. You don’t have to go to such extremes to get an idea of this pain, it’s all been recorded on ‘Preachers’, it feels like more of a confessional, but you are rooting for them up in the pulpit. This version of My Jerusalem have the power and talent to make you believe for a very long time.