The Texas-bred duo of Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance has always leaned heavily in an acoustic direction—especially on 2014’s spare Utah and 2019’s San Isabel. But with this latest album (their best in my view, and overall one of the finest of the past year), they’ve left their country-rock tendencies aside for the moment, emphasizing their folkier, quiet side, which allows their sublime and truly glorious vocal blend to shine even more than usual. Occasionally, an electric bass or ghostly pedal steel peeks through in the mix, but mostly it’s just fingerpicked acoustic guitars—Clay played a Gibson Hummingbird; producer/musician Robert Ellis played a Waterloo WL-14—and sometimes a fiddle, mandolin, or resonator guitar… and those voices that sometimes eerily recall the balladic side of the Everly Brothers.
Both now in their late 30s, Clay and Chance have been friends since their mid-teens, and if this album has an overarching theme it is coming to terms with the fleeting nature of youth and what is both lost and learned as we grow older. This is also an album that revels in the wide-open expanses and natural beauty of the American Southwest. By contrast, the arrangements are striking in their intimacy—a few of the vocals, like on the wonderful opener, “Coyote,” are practically whispered, and throughout, the guitars and other instruments always offer unobtrusive yet perfect support for the duo’s narrative. Jamestown Revival use traditional folk and country forms exclusively yet somehow manage to still sound fresh and original—quite a feat!
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.