On this third album by Early Day Miners, the band set out to make what they referred to as "a rock record", one with shorter, succinctly-structured songs, to be recorded mostly live at principle songwriter Dan Burton's Grotto Home Studio in Bloomington, Indiana. They did, in fact, accomplish each of their established criteria. It's interesting, though, how different folks interpret the term "rock". Given the context that it was recorded in between Grotto Home Studio sessions (each engineered by Burton) with Papa M, On Fillmore, Darin Gray, and Cheree Jetton (the Pilot Ships), Jefferson At Rest definitely does sound like a rock record, but so does Chris Isaak's San Francisco Days when held to the same light. The album does indeed take Early Day Miners one step further in the rock direction. Burton's vocals are still hushed, yet ever more confident. Song structures are more concrete -- the sprawling soundscapes of past releases foregone for a more pop feel which takes cues from Peter Gabriel's mid-80's work. Still present, however, is the ever-patient cadence with which Burton, drummer Rory Leitch, guitarist Joe Brumley, bassist Matt Lindblom and violinist Maggie Polk take on the songs. The arrangements, while sparse in comparison to past records, still feel lush as filtered through Burton's production, which shows the marks of a life-long appreciation of Daniel Lanois and classic 4AD records.
Jefferson At Rest's lyrical imagery evokes a post-Civil War-era American South and, more specifically, New Orleans landscape. It's only natural, as Burton was steeped in such mythology growing up, having spent his childhood between his Civil War historian mother's horse farm just outside Louisville, Kentucky, and his father's home in Mobile, Alabama. "New Holland" is a beautiful song which features a duet with Burton and vocalist Erin Houchin, a wonderful new addition to the Early Day Miners family.
Vinyl version is being released by Western Vinyl with the bonus song "Fillmore Blues" which is not on the compact disc version.
(SC081 released: 04/22/03)