Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers' songs ring true and new. Spot-on work from an American wordsmith.—Patty Larkin"Mind candy for the listener to chew on." —Jessica Novak, Syracuse New Times (more) "The album of twelve songs of roots rock/blues/folk has an understated raw beauty. Every song is a winner, thick with evocative lines...strong melodies...powerful grooves...and wickedly good, subtle guitar playing.... This CD will hold you hostage."—Céline Keating, Minor 7th (more) "Deft commentary...a call to be ornery but sympathetic—cautionary but optimistic."—Kenneth Pattengale, the Milk Carton Kids (more) "JPR may be the quintessential acoustic singer-songwriter, but he colors with a full palette of folk, rock, blues, and soul."—Greg Jackson, NYS Music (more) "It’s lush and it’s lively and it’s lovely. No wonder Rodgers is a winner in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest."—Mark Bialczak
About the musicAlmost There is my fourth solo album of original songs, and it captures for the first time the full acoustic band that I've been building over the last five years. I am so thrilled and proud to share it with you. More than any other album I’ve made, Almost There tells a story—about shaking off the past, remaking yourself, and moving forward while accepting and even embracing where you are. There are specific personal reasons why the songs came out this way; in particular, the four years since my last album of original songs saw the end of the relationship/marriage that had been at the center of my entire adult life. But to me, the autobiography behind the songs is not the point. As Chris Thile (Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers) recently said to me in an interview, even a song rooted in personal experience should not purely be couch time with the audience as your therapist. What I’m after as a songwriter are the underlying emotions, and the ways that your story connects with mine. Stylistically, some of the songs lean toward country/folk, while others have a rock and blues feel, as well as touches of soul and even bossa nova. Honestly, I never think about this stuff when I write. I am obsessed with guitar grooves, chord progressions, and the ways that words entwine with melodies. The categorization comes later, as a marketing necessity. This much I can say for sure: the music is 100 percent acoustic, handmade, and heartfelt.
The playersHere are the great musicians who join me on Almost There. Rani Arbo plays fiddle on two songs and sings harmony on the opening track, "Eight Days in January." Rani's band—Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem—has been an inspiration to me, and it’s an honor to have her on this album.
Josh Dekaney plays a one-of-a-kind percussion kit and adds backup vocals too. He can do it all—country, classical, jazz, rock, samba—and he has performed with Aretha Franklin and with Glenn Kotche of Wilco. Josh has been playing with me for five years, and we made the album Stop, Drop, and Roll together.
Wendy Ramsay contributes a tremendous range of sounds to this album. She sings and plays flute, clarinet, accordion, and glockenspiel, and supplies wise cracks during shows. She’s also a gifted songwriter, and she cowrote the music to the song "Almost There" with me.
John Dancks, on upright bass, is a much-loved figure on the music scene around Central New York—he’s an official hall of famer and MVP of countless bands. He locks in beautifully with the acoustic guitar and percussion.
Jason Fridley plays saxophone on the album closer, “End of the Line,” bringing a lovely touch of Stan Getz to his solos.
As for me, I sing and play my Manzer acoustic guitar as well as Strumstick (on “Eight Days in January”) and a nearly century-old tenor banjo (on “The Wrong Way Home”).