"The cover of 'Born Again Blues' — two shadowy, blurry figures, one in a cowboy hat, the other in a white shirt and tie — gives a sense of how this strange little record sounds: mysterious, dream-like and anonymous... It took two listens to find the buried vocals, three to hear any instrument besides bare-bones folk guitar and banjo."
-Pittsburgh City Paper, January 2013
Western Pennsylvania’s "Born Again Blues" is the passion project of pop veteran Jeff Betten and novelist Joseph Ripple. Stripped down to the regional sounds of day and night, the album is country music: homespun and handmade with unobstrusive hints of pedal steel guitar, banjo, reed organ, cello, fiddle, and piano. Betten is a voice without words, a ghost with a narrative that grows heavy. Written to envelop, each song is a shade darker than its former, recorded on one lingering track that manages to retain its emotional potency without overstaying its welcome. The band’s first album draws inspiration from the authenticity of Tom Waits and the lo-fi charm of Iron and Wine. Like Ginsberg’s "Howl", "Born Again Blues" is the strange, rambling man in the room: entertain him for a while and he’ll reward you with a sophisticated understanding of the human experience. Western Pennsylvania offers a calculated, classically-assembled album that demands attention to its subtleties. [+]
Created: March 9, 2016, 8:26 a.m.
Last Modified: June 12, 2016, 10 p.m.