The Jay Kipps Band made up of Jay Kipps (Vocals, Harmonica, Guitar), Chad Burford (Lead Guitars), Chris Lubker (Bass, Backup Vocals) and Cory Bruyea (Drums), delivers a stew of blues, Americana, warm psychedelia and roots rock n’ roll on their long player, “How To Polish Your Longhorns” . But within that template, they’ve left a trail of surprises to uncover, and the band have built a playground and given themselves the time and space to thoroughly explore every corner. Opener “Colt 45” sets the scene with a moment of extreme, strutting, old-school country and western funkiness, before they skip their way through the breezy, drifting, clear-eyed harmonica and guitar groove of “Rotten Apple Blues”, the beautiful slow edginess of “Everyone But Me” and the upbeat bass-driven harmonic affirmations on “Big Old Engine” that pinpoints the band’s Americana roots sounds.
“Hard Core” is a steady, tight-lipped melodic amble through a slow tumbling guitar jangle. “Sinister” pays playful tribute to the rock guitar riff with its barked poetry and barbed lyricism, and is a delight. Jay Kipps Band are at their best, though, when things are kept simple and sincere, as on the heartfelt acoustic strum of “The Only Reason,” with its instantly affecting, ungilded assertion: ‘And you, you make my life worth living, thanks for all the giving, and my babies.’
There’s a free-spirited flowiness to “Harp Bomb”, and a warm, Southern vibe that makes it just a little bit groovy. “Gonzo –Live” brings a little ray of psychedelic light beaming through these dark days, along with spoken word verses and a twangy electric guitar under the influence of the blues.
“Call Me The Breeze – Live”, a J.J. Cale cover, has a sunny, Western sound with guitar and harmonica notes clucking in the background. “Surfarie” is a song tailor-made for salt, sand, and cold, cold beer. It’s elevated and optimistic – another dose of something playful and pure in a dark, pessimistic world. To hear something similar, you’ll need to go back to the 60s and grab hold of any record by The Ventures.
The Jay Kipps Band’s music is full of vivid details and inventive musical flourishes that demonstrate a deep knowledge of their craft and little reverence for the boundaries between genres. In this album, the band establishes the entire tone and flow from the organic instruments and the soundboard, creating a warm sonic palette for the instrumentation — the sound of the guitar and harmonica is an accomplishment in itself — and leaving enough aural space for the band’s dynamics to stand out.
As for the performances themselves, the interplay between guitars, harmonica and bass, is impeccable, but it’s also the economic drum playing style that makes these interactions so effective. Track after track, the band creates layers and layers of beautiful organic music and vocals, while developing an experience that never feels rushed or overdone.
The album has a sort of unpredictable consistency to it; just when you think you’ve got a grasp on the music, the Jay Kipps Band shift gears while always maintaining a sense of down home familiarity.
What they have created in “How To Polish Your Longhorns” is a roots Americana record which has the energetic atmosphere of a saloon bar at times, and a starlit front porch setting at others. Harmonicas and blues-style guitars twang, decorating the fabric of this record matched with the soothing vocal tones of leading member Jay Kipps.