By The Time Your Rocket Gets To Mars (released April 15 on Cosmo Sex School/Voodoo Doughnut Recordings) is that rarest of rares, an album that puts the lie to all our shouting and disunity by finding the underlying ties that bind and wrapping them in melodies that slip past one’s defenses, fired-up yet tender rock with purpose and higher calling that suggests Van Morrison having a late night jam session with Crazy Horse and Joe Strummer. It’s a call to tenderize ourselves enough to feel what’s happening in the world and then do what we can to generate some positivity and basic kindness. This collection is timely to an almost painful degree, an outstretched hand and open heart to battle back all the fence building and the black tide of Trump’s ugly America eroding the earth beneath us.
This is the work of true professionals, musical lifers serving the material with judicious power and keenly placed touches steered by musician’s musician Dave Schools (Hard Working Americans, Widespread Panic). Captured at the cozy clubhouse of Bob Weir’s TRI Studios in Marin, CA, By The Time Your Rocket Gets To Mars hums with intent, a clarion cry to look up from the ground, stop replaying the past’s stories, and welcome in fresh horizons and truths unseen. The muscle pumping this journey out of the dark lands is the choice personnel producer Schools assembled for this set, which includes Joseph’s regular touring partners Steve Drizos (drums), Steven James Wright (bass) and Jeff Crosby (guitar) alongside guests keyboardists Jason Crosby & Mookie Siegel and guitarists Scott Law & Steve Kimock. The builds in these songs are exhilarating, simmering seductions that explode beautifully with effective timing, the hard and soft elements well balanced and playfully mingled. The sucker sounds great, too, but mixer Jim Scott (Ryan Bingham, Wilco, Neal Casal) has a long history of nailing just the right vibe. Some tracks like “Fog of War” and “Istanbul” were captured in heady one takes, and the whole album possesses a forward rush, varied elements locking in as the album travels through today’s gunfire and hard rain.
God is here, too, surveying the fires and shouting, crossing her fingers that love and the realization that all we really have is right now will ultimately win the battle for humanity’s soul. On his latest collection, Jerry Joseph reminds us of the many forms the divine can take and the myriad ways we can get lost and found in our seeking of a ground of reality beyond paychecks, wars, and countless disappointing tangents. Hope is hard won in the 21st century and By The Time Your Rocket Gets To Mars is a sharp plough for cutting fertile furrows where hope may grow from a mustard seed to a sprout and maybe even something tall and green one day.
Pick up the album here