Jerry David DeCicca Understanding Land on LP
After five critically-acclaimed full-length albums with The Black Swans, the last of which, Occasion For Song, serving as a eulogy for Noel Sayre, it felt like a good time to begin a new journey. Understanding Land is the debut solo long player from Jerry David DeCicca. These ten songs were written in the Elephant & Castle neighborhood of London after five months of touring and traveling the US, Spain, Portugal, and the UK.
What began as demos, soon turned into the actual album when they were shared with double bassist Andy Hamill (Mark Murphy, Natacha Atlas, Tracey Thorn). Andy added bass and some gypsy slides. JDD sent tracks to pals Will Oldham (Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) and Kelley Deal (The Breeders) and they both came back with sweet harmonies. The legendary Spooner Oldham (Muscle Shoals, Dylan, Neil Young) played Wurlitzer on 3 songs in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
DeCicca met Oldham through his co-production of the late Larry Jon Wilson (Heartworn Highways, 1965 Records), Deal through two recent solo tours together, and Spooner from crashing the recording session and writing the liner the notes to Testifyin' a UK compilation that comprised new recordings by Dan Penn, Tony Joe White, Donnie Fritts and others. Everyone you hear (except Spooner who cheated and used a real studio - The NuttHouse in Muscle Shoals, AL) recorded the tracks in their home, themselves. Once the digital world allowed everyone to be gathered together, it was mixed in Austin, TX by Grammy winner Stuart Sikes (Cat Power, Phosphorescent, Loretta Lynn, White Stripes).
Understanding Land mixes a slo-mo folk doom & gloom with sense of optimism. Opener, "Before the Storm" begins "Along the pillows and cradles/ Long after all the damage had been done," using both the new holes and the new hills created by the weather as metaphor for the plus and minuses of change. "29th of June" and "Colors in the Sky" continue the record into its Weather Trilogy. "Opportunity to Love," a duet with Eve Searls, is a tender and encouraging step forward to allow more people into your life, like a folkier and more rustic "Don't Give Up."
Where "Invisible Man" is about dealing with the ghost that is suicide, "I Want Nothing" is a rejection of the material world. "Bloom Again," the album's closer, is a song of re-birth that recalls the meteorological metaphors from earlier: "And I stood like a tree/ through winter's bitter schemes/ And waited my turn/ To bloom again."