Mike Morrison´s review from Americanrootsuk.com


December 3, 2012

Had Tom Waits gone in a country music direction back in his early days this recording would in all probability be his new album, such is the generally quirky feel and the (slightly!) smoothed out vocals of J. Tex! An odd comparison as well as an over simplification but there are slight whispers of Waits, although there is a lot more to this album of music that has to be categorized as country, but a strange highly original, cleverly constructed and loose take on the genre.
The band is made up of Jens Einer Sørensen (J.Tex) on vocals, guitar, banjo and violin, whilst the ‘Volunteers’ are Ida Hvid on bass and Jason Bedard on Drums. Sorensen was born in Detroit, Michigan but grew up in Denmark and he returned to the US at the age of 20, eventually returning to Copenhagen where he and the other two members of the trio now live. There are twelve songs on this quirky but excellent album of which seven are J. Tex originals, one of which is an instrumental, and the remaining five are‘covers’ of one traditional instrumental, plus songs by Steve Earle, Lowell George, Danny Dil/Mel Tillis and another by Johnny Cash. I say covers but this unusual trio do
their level best to not exactly make them unrecognizable but to adapt them to their own idiosyncratic style that it’s safe to say is unlike anyone else I can think of!
All of the songs are played and sung in a slow tempo but there are always a lot of interesting diversions going on with the instrumentation, vocals and in many cases the lyrics. First track on the album is a case in point and gives a fair indication of the entertaining quirkiness that is to follow. It is a Tex original with an addictive percussive opening that wouldn’t disgrace Tom Waits, similarly the vocals. The song is a dark murder and execution ballad with some nice banjo and a chunky percussive guitar with a nice strong double bass thump, all combining to give a unique atmosphere. This is followed by another unusual song in Home On The Hill, another entertaining tale from the pen of Tex and a lovely sparse story of loneliness that has an arid desert feel, almost like a scene from a spaghetti western, with nice bass thrum plus acoustic guitar, occasional harmonica and shaker, even including alto sax towards the end! The sax, coming in late as it does, seems to deepen the darkness of the song. Look Up Look Down has an incredibly twangy electric guitar, repetitive drum
sound and nice heavy bass on another tale of loneliness that this time he hopes is coming to an end, followed a couple of songs later by a complete departure, although still recognizably this talented band. It is Carnival Girl, with it’s nice barrelhouse piano and sax intro/interlude with acoustic guitar and harmonica on a really cleverly constructed tale of his beloved that in many ways evokes the carnival atmosphere of old. A strange, quite sinister feeling song. There is some real foot tapping percussion and bass, later helped by sax on a story of a Coalminers Daughter that has little in common with the Loretta Lynne classic but is still a quirkily riveting story that is almost impossible to tie down to any genre, particularly with the sax going off in a different direction. The best of the covers are an extraordinary version of Lowell George’s Willin’ and Steve Earle’s, just as extraordinary, Ben McCulloch. I’m pretty sure these two esteemed writers never envisaged this treatment of their songs but just as sure they would have enjoyed this slightly different treatment. The album closes with the two instrumentals, the traditional I Always Knew You Were TheOne, with it’s lovely accordion lead, accompanied by fiddle and bass and Tex’s Ukulele Lullaby that is summed up by the title.
This is an album I keep returning to thanks to the originality that the band brings to their music and despite the ‘quirkiness’ it is a recording of great skill and musicality that really is
a country album, albeit one that is closer to the boundary than it is the mainstream and long may they continue ploughing their own furrow!

Review form Buster Fayt´s Rockabilly Romp !!


On April 9, 1860, the French inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville used a device he’d created—called the phonautograph, which etches waveforms onto paper—to make the first audio recording. It makes for an interesting story because this recording—a less-than-crystal-clear rendition of “Claire de la Lune”—remained unheard until just a couple of years ago when someone finally figured out how to use a computer to decipher the recording Scott de Martinville created and turn it into audio so we could listen to it.

This story also goes against the common wisdom that it was Thomas Alva Edison who created the first recording with a rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in 1877. Edison’s was the first recording ever to be successfully played back and heard.

So, all this is very interesting for certain, but what does it have to do with J. Tex & The Volunteers’ latest CD House On the Hill? Well, stay with me here…between these two landmark recording events, another highly significant historical event took place: The American Civil War. And (here’s where I finally get around to the connection) if recordings had been made of American music during the Civil War years, my guess is they would have sounded a lot like House On The Hill.

This is a superlative record. It’s simultaneously beautiful in its simplicity and head turning in its complexity. To me, this record evokes images of rebel soldiers sitting around the campfire in a rare moment of leisure singing along to sparse accompaniment on simple instruments. This record is roots music in its most base form. And yet, it’s not. It’s more complex than that. I don’t know how the band pulls such a dichotomy off, but they do so with amazing success.

J. Tex & The Volunteers are Jens Einer Sørensen on vocals, guitar, banjo, and violin, Ida Hvid on Bass, and Jason Bedford on Drums. The trio is joined by a host of guest musicians lending their talents on various other instruments. Now, if you think that a couple of those names don’t exactly sound like the names of soldiers from the Confederate States that were attempting to succeed from the American union, well you’re right. The band is based in Denmark which makes their uncanny synchronicity with American roots music even more amazing. They do have their American roots though as they come originally from Detroit, Michigan.

What? Detroit? Well, for those of you who don’t know your American geography (and sadly, I’m probably speaking mostly to Americans now!), Detroit is a northern city. So really, any way you look at it, it’s a bit of a puzzle to figure out how this band developed this deep southern feel, but they’ve got it nailed, that’s for sure.

There’s a mixture of cover and original tunes (written by Einer Sørensen) on this record, but even the cover tunes are largely original in their delivery and stylization. For instance, the band covers the Johnny Cash classic “I Still Miss Someone,” a song that’s already about as roots as it gets. But Einer Sørensen takes the song and almost completely rewrites the melody so that it sounds even more roots. The band gives similar treatment to Steve Earl’s masterpiece, “Ben McCulloch” making it even more roots than Earl’s original. Again, I don’t know how these guys do it, but it’s quite impressive and I’m glad they do!

It’s that song, “Ben McColloch,” that most evokes the Civil War since that’s the theme of the song, but I think I’d get that Civil War feeling from this record even if that song wasn’t on it.

The arrangements of these songs are mostly subtle and understated with mostly traditional, acoustic instruments. But here things get even more interesting because the band takes a few lessons from artists like Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen by throwing a few unexpected instruments into the mix here and there. Electronic instruments with names such as Omnichord, Optigan, and Mellotron, clarinets, bass clarinets, bongos, Ukulele, Moog synthesizers, kalimbas, drum machines…all of these decisively non-traditional-roots instruments make their appearances on the record. And if you think that sounds like a crazy list, here’s the really crazy part: every last one of them fits this record perfectly. Again, I don’t know how these guys did it, but it works. It’s truly amazing really.

As for the songs themselves, I have my favorites and I guess I have a couple that are not my favorites. But there’s not a bad song on this disc. And the strong songs are simply outstanding. “The Ballad of My Brother & Me” kicks the record off and it’s a great first cut. It’s ragged and unpolished and it perfectly sets the tone for what you’ll hear on the rest of the record. “Home On The Hill,” “Look Up Look Down,” and on down the list—this is a great display of songwriting talent.

If this record has a signature, it’s the treatment they’ve chosen to give Einer Sørensen’s vocals. To being with, he has a rough voice which you wouldn’t necessarily call pretty, but it’s perfectly suited to this music. Then, they had him either sing through a low-quality microphone, or they added distortion and subtracted definition and clarity from the sound in post production. This treatment brilliantly lends authenticity to the old-time feel of the music. In these days of modern digital, perfectly clean recording techniques, it’s a gutsy and brilliant move to purposely degrade the quality of the vocal recordings. It as much as anything else about this record puts you in that old-time roots music space and once you’re there, you never once leave until the record’s over.

House On The Hill is the third record from J. Tex & The Volunteers and it’s out on Sweden’s Heptown Records. Heptown has definitely become one of my favorite record labels. I’ve reviewed several of their releases including projects fromAstrolitesDuck and CoverThe Troubled Three, and The Creamators and invariably they’ve all been really fine records. Heptown has a truly impressive feel for roots and rockabilly music and they know how to pick their bands. J. Tex & The Volunteers is another great Heptown act. And House On The Hill is definitely a record that you’ll want to check out. To be clear, it’s not rockabilly, but it’s great roots music and I highly recommend that you give it a listen!


Stilsikker Americana fra egne landestrøg

Skrevet af Thomas Steen Jensen – 05/11/2012 – 08:28

Stilsikker Americana fra egne landestrøg

J. Tex & The Volunteers´ hillbilly countryrock er dybt forankret i den amerikanske rootsmusik og den dansk-amerikanske trio har fat i den lange ende og et stålsikkert greb om traditionerne på House On The Hill. Nok indeholder albummet en hel del covers – syv ud af tolv skæringer er fortolkninger – men de falder herligt naturligt ind i bandets eget materiale. Og med fare for at få Johnny Cash-fans på nakken, så er jeg på nippet til næsten at dømme J. Tex´ version af ”I Still Miss Someone” bedre end originalen og det er vel at mærke sagt af en stor fan af The Man In Black. Jens Einer Sørensen synger med en varmere glød og en mindre snap diktion end Cash, og det giver nummeret et nyt liv. Det er sgu godt gået.

J. Tex & The Volunteers’ egne numre holder alle højt niveau og leveres med spilleglæde, autencitet og fingerspitzgefühl, når det kommer til melodisk feel for den amerikanske tradition. Bandet lyder langt hen ad vejen som en dansk fætter til især Tom Waits’ højanerkendte blå viser, fra livets skyggesider og eksistentielle skæverter, men også et navn som Woven Hand – dog uden den kristne tungetale og gotiske patos – melder sig som genkendelsesakse. Apropos Waits, så lyder J. Tex´ cover af Little Feat´s ”Willin” – et af pladens bedste numre i øvrigt – pudsigt nok mere henad Waits materiale end Little Feat´s eget. Og så lyder fortolkningen af Steve Earle´s ”Ben McCulloch”, som en fræk countryficeret version af Nick Cave, når han rabler på O´Malleys bar.

Åbneren ”The Ballad Of My Brother & Me” er en lille perle, der sætter barren højt for resten af det støvede udspil. En lun, fyldig og swingende gulvbas, spillet med nerve og overbevisning af Ida Hvid, skaber sammen med banjo og Jason Bedards følte og stilsikre percussion, rammerne for fire minutter med læberne svunget op i et bredt smil. Titelnummeret er også værdigt blandt de store drenge. Arizonagutterne i Calexico og Giant Sand, kunne snildt indlemme J. Tex & The Volunteers i klubben og snuppe en whisky på verandaen i fællesskab. Jens Einer Sørensens vokal er præcis så fyldig, rusten og støvet med masser af overskud, at man køber præmissen og gladelig inviterer den amerikanske prærie indenfor i stuen. Skulle jeg pege på en ligesindet vokal, falder tankerne på sørgeligt afdøde Mark Sandman fra hedengangne Morphine.

Eneste skurren i geledderne er ”Carnival Girl”, der bliver for meget fransk caberet-stemning for min smag, til og med med Sørensen i rollen som fransk chanson. Det er også det eneste der nummer, der stikker uheldigt ud og desværre bryder med den stilsikre ramme, pladens ellers befinder sig rigtig godt i.

”Ukulele Lullaby” er spøjs med sine impulsive studiekommentarer og en varm og elegant afslutning på et herligt gennemarbejdet, og i bedste forstand helt igennem bedaget album af den slags, der ikke findes mange af på den danske scene. Når jeg nu nævner inspiration fra og tydelige paralleller til adskillige andre bands, kunne man spørge sig selv, hvor vidt J. Tex & The Volunteers har sin berettigelse. Her må svaret blive et rungende ja, for det er gjort med så stor autencitet og overbevisning, at jeg gerne vælger danskerne til, giver dem plads og rum og i stedet lægger pejlepunkterne lidt til side for et øjeblik.

House On The Hill er et glimrende traditionsbevidst album, der fortjener opmærksomhed.

Ugens Album i Metroxpress – Aarhus/Vest

kilde: KultuNaut, Carsten Meedom

Danske Jens Einer Sørensen spiller noget af det mest udanske country noir a la Cash, Wovenhand og Winters på en mørk septemberdag, men House On The Hill indeholder den tyngde og autenticitet, der får albummet til at lykkes.
The Roots
J. Tex & The Volunteers består, udover Jens Einer, af Jason Lance Bedard, som er født i en lille by i Oregon, og Ida Hvid med kontrabassen, som er vokset op på landet og musikalsk rundet af jazzen. Der er ingen tvivl om, at guitarist og sanger Jens Einer Sørensen er dybt forankret i den amerikanske roots music som den udspiller sig down south. Der bliver spillet countryfolk så det støver ud af højttalerne.
Trioen mestrer det intime og det jordnære, og lyden vokser aldrig over hovedet på de enkle melodier. Og med undtagelse af et par enkelte holder melodierne et fantastisk stærkt niveau. Eksempelvis trækker skæringen “Detroit City” lidt ned med sit gumpetunge tempo og har ikke den catchy fornemmelse, som de øvrige melodier bygger solidt på. Men også den traditionelle folkemelodi “I Always Knew You Were the One”, hvor Jens Einer i øvrigt spiller violin, virker lidt malplaceret med sit jordnære tema, som passer bedre hos et dansk ensemble som Tøbrud end hos et alt.country-band, der dyrker de mørkere toner.
Arven fra Cash
De 12 skæringer byder fortrinsvist på egne produktioner, men Cash-klasikkeren fra 1958 “I Still Miss Someone”, som i øvrigt var b-siden på singlen med “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town”, bliver fremført med den underspillede nerve og ydmyghed, der yder retfærd mod forlægget og får projektet til at lykkes. Det er ikke svært at spille Cash-sange omkring lejrbålet i en halvbrandert, men The Volunteers lykkes med at genskabe stemningen og atmosfæren, samtidig med at de fortolker og skaber deres egen lyd og intention med sangen.
“Home on the Hill” er også et af albummets stærkeste, hvor vokalen folder sig flot ud i tusmørket og skaber den sitrende fornemmelse, som er trioens stærkeste kort. For det er i det underspillede og det nedtonede, at J.Tex & The Volunteers lykkes at skabe deres egen lyd og musik i et intimt og halvakustisk rum.
Jens Einer Søensens vokal har lidt de samme kvaliteter som en Jacob Bellens fra Murder, med det mørke og mumlende, men samtidig meget kraftfulde udtryk. Og når Hvids bas og Bedards rudimentære perkussion understøtter det rå og svingende guitarspil, går det hele op i en højere enhed.
Albummet indeholder flere perler, som imponerer og overbeviser, og så tilgiver man de enkelte småsvipsere i det både traditionelle og legesyge musikalske univers.


Review in Country Music People…. NOVEMBER 2012

House On The Hill
The Ballad Of My Brother & Me/ Home On The Hill / I Still Miss Someone / Look Up Look Down /
Willin’ / Carnival Girl / Coalminers Daughter / Ben McCulloch / Long Lost Woman / Detroit City / I
Always Knew You Were The One/ Ukulele Lullaby
Producers: Carl Granberg, J. Tex
& The Volunteers
Heptown Records

Here’s a strange one. I don’t like labelling and categorising music any more than the next bloke, but
for the purposes of reviewing a record, and trying to give readers at least some idea of what it might
sound like it’s a necessary evil. This one though has me kind of stumped, At times it’s like Seasick
Steve meets Cab Calloway, others it’s more Tom Waits meets Maurice Chevalier. It’s certainly
different, but most importantly, it’s wonderful, even if it’s pretty much unclassifiable.

One minute you’re listening to a beautiful melodic fiddle tune (I Always Knew You Were The
One), the next it’s something that sounds like someone noodling on a front porch in Virginia (Ukulele
Lullaby). Carnival Girl sounds as though it came from the streets of Paris, while Coalminers Daughter
has an almost Middle Eastern flavour towards the end. The Ballad Of My Brother And Me which opens the album
is irresistible in every way and reminded me a little of the Alabama 3 song which was the theme to The Sopranos,
while Home On The Hill has a cowboy feel. There are three covers; Johnny Cash’s I Still Miss
Someone, Bobby Bare’s Detroit City, and the Little Feat song Willin’. None of them work nearly
as well as the original songs here, but I think that’s because they are so far removed from the song you
might be familiar with.

J. Tex was born in Detroit, Michigan but grew up in Denmark. He returned to the USA
at the age of 20 to search for his musical roots. These days he lives in Copenhagen and with The
Volunteers has certainly come up with a unique take on American roots music.
Even though it doesn’t all work, I’ve been trying really hard to figure out why I like this album
so much. It’s not usually the kind of thing I like, and there’s no doubting it’s different. J. Tex
might not be the best singer in the world, but there is certainly something about his gruff delivery
that draws you in, but ultimately I think it’s because I like the overall groove.

J. Tex is most likely a musical genius, and with just one appearance on the Jools Holland
show would be huge. This may not be the most country thing I’ve heard recently, but it is one
of the most interesting, and very definitely roots. I’d advise going to http://www.jtex.dk and listening to
some J. Tex before committing, because it might not be for everybody but I loved it.

Duncan Warwick


J. Tex & the Volunteers – House on the Hill –



2012-10-18 15:51

J. Tex & the Volunteers – House on the Hill

LP: HTR219
CD: HTR063


House on the Hill är titlen på J. Tex & the Volunteers nya album, som har release på Heptown Records 26 oktober 2012. Bakom det snygga omslaget gömmer det sig 12 starka låtar, som visar att bandet har utvecklats och de visar upp en liten ny sida. De har skurit ner en del på inflytelsen från bl.a. country, men musiken er som tidigare stadigt förankrat i den amerikanske musiktraditionen: Anno 2012 är J. Tex & the Volunteers stadigt en av Nordens bästa framförare av dammig, svängande och oförfalskad roots musik.

J. Tex & the Volunteers har på nyaste albumet ett stort fokus på kompositioner av sångaren, låtskrivaren och musikern J. Tex (Jens Einer Sørensen), men överordnat är House on the Hill  ett band album. De har en ny basist och instrumenteringen är på det nye albumet mera utforskande och varierat. Utan att mista sitt träffsäkra fundament i den amerikanska musikens rötter samt i sitt signum vad angår personlig touch och ljud, har J. Tex & the Volunteers med House on the Hill skapat ett mer omfattande och mångsidigt album.

House on the Hill består av sju sånger skrivna av J. Tex samt tolkningar av låtar av bland andra Johnny Cash, Steve Earle och Little Feat. Den senare i form av “Willin ‘”, en låt som J. Tex alltid velat ge sin version av.


1. The Ballad Of My Brother & Me
2. Home On The Hill
3. I Still Miss Someone
4. Look Up Look Down
5. Willin’
6. Carnival Girl
7. Coalminers Daughter
8. Ben McCulloch
9. Long Lost Woman
10. Detroit City
11. I Always Knew You Were The One
12. Ukulele Lullaby


J. Tex & The Volunteers:
Jens Einer Sørensen: Sång, gitarr, banjo, mandolin
Ida Hvid: Bass
Jason Bedard: Trummor

J. Tex & The Volunteers:
“House on the Hill” – CD/LP/DIGITAL/KASSETT -Heptown Records 2012
”Santa Comes `round” – 7” VINYL SINGLE/CD SINGLE/DIGITAL – Heptown Records 2011
”One of this days” – CD/ DIGITAL- Heptown Records 2008
”Lost between clouds of tumbleweed and space” – CD/ DIGITAL-  Heptown Records 2006

J. Tex (solo)
”Misery” – CD/LP/DIGITAL – Heptown Records 2009



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