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Album Review: Chris Jagger, "Mixing Up the Medicine"

The album "Mixing Up the Medicine" shows Chris Jagger as a fine singer and storyteller, with style, substance and an indelibly engaging charm. There's even a guest vocal from his older brother, Mick, on the opening track.
chris Jagger

Chris Jagger

Mixing Up the Medicine

BMG Records (CD, LP)

  

Review by Eric Harabadian

Although the album title is a lyric taken from Bob Dylan’s song Subterranean Homesick Blues,” the choice was an honest afterthought on Chris Jagger’s part. But, it seems apropos, as Jagger applies a fluid alchemical approach to music making. Along with co-producer-songwriter-pianist Charlie Hart, Jagger shapes and molds 10 stellar original tracks that draw from a rich divergent palette. 

Along for the ride are old mates and top session players, including guitarists John Etheridge and Neil Hubbard, double bassist Olly Blanchflower, saxophonists Frank Mead and Nick Payn, percussionist Jody Linscott and, last but not least, Chris’ older brother Mick, sharing vocals on opening track “Anyone Seen My Heart?” That song’s blend of blues and ska, with lyrics by 19th century poet and physician Thomas Beddoes, sets the listener on a road less travelled. That journey continues, with the Crescent City shuffle and rhumba of “Merry Go Round.” 

A little down the list “Talking to Myself” is a highlight for its combination of introspective jazz phrasing and soulful swing. “Happy as a Lamb” keeps that jazzy vibe simmering, with a heavy helping of early period R&B. Etheridge’s smooth guitar lines really add fuel to Jagger’s rather innocent and upbeat mood. Another gem is Jagger and Hart’s composition “A Love Like This.” The track seems to have leapt right out of the Rodgers and Hammerstein-Sammy Cahn song book. The use of traditional instruments like accordions, concertina, mandolins and fiddle factor heavily into the sonic landscape as well.

Chris Jagger is a fine singer and storyteller, with style, substance and an indelibly engaging charm.