Jan Garrett and JD Martin have No Complaints on new CD
CARBONDALE On a sublime October afternoon in downtown Carbondale, local singer-songwriters Jan Garrett and JD Martin arrive for an interview. The first words out of Garretts mouth Oh man, are we lucky to live here or what? are almost too perfect an introduction to the core topic of the days conversation.Garrett and Martin are just releasing their latest album. With expressions of gratefulness for what the world has to offer; Martins bright keyboards and the duos coordinated vocals rounding out mostly major-key songs, the music seems to exist outside of the pervasively anxious tenor of its times. The CD cover is a photo of the twosome, a married couple as well as musical partners, snuggling and smiling, barefoot, over tropical drinks. The album ends with Laugh Track a minute-plus of people laughing. The albums title is a phrase that probably hasnt been uttered too often these past weeks: No Complaints Whatsoever.Both Garrett and Martin say that they are not ignoring the torrent of bad news. Nor is their music meant merely as an escape from nervous reality. Instead, songs like the opener Turning Tide, which literally promises better times, and Whoo, which finds endless comfort in the understanding of a partner, are aimed at another reality: that making music meant to uplift and give assurance can actually create a zone of peacefulness.Mostly, for me, its a practical thing, said Garrett of the nonstop positivity on No Complaints Whatsoever. I want to do what works. I dont want to spend a lot of time depressed, whacking through the weeds. I feel that focusing on what is working, what is beautiful, lovely, sparks my own creativity. When I reach for that vision, that vision comes back to me. And thats a lot more fun than kvetching.There are several things that raise the album above pie-in-the-sky cheeriness. The songs are well-constructed Martin has had a successful career as a songwriter in Nashville and Los Angeles and well-played by a group of musicians that includes local John Michel on drums and Terry Bannon on keyboards. Garretts voice has tones of jazz and blues that add complexity to the sound. And the lyrics often suggest ways to cut through the storms of life; there is a sense of intention to the words.Thats what we aspire to, said Martin. [Singer-songwriter] David Wilcox, Ive heard him say, Your songs remind you about who you are when youve forgotten. Thats what its about for me.If I wake up freaked out in the middle of the night and I do I want a song I can remember and say, Oh yeah, and it calms me down and centers me, echoed Garrett. I get hungry for that kind of inspiration. This music feeds me and sustains me.And though the title song might suggest otherwise part of the lyric reads, The high road is surprisingly easy/ Forgiveness shows up without a fight there is also the presence, however slight, of those things Garrett and Martin are trying to overcome with their messages. Some days are diamonds/ Some days are dirt, they sing in the country-rag, See My Way Through. On the title song, they claim to have been down, been betrayed … been broken up before coming around to the new day dawning in my soul.I watch the news occasionally, said Martin. We notice things we want to change and part of living a good life is noticing what doesnt work. But we dont want to be whining, living in that world.In my past, Ive written songs out of great pain. That could happen again. But today, I cant quite get there.Its so easy to protest. And there are people who do that really well, and I congratulate them, added Garrett. I have a sensitive nervous system. I do my best to surround myself with things that make me feel good.A good bit of the good vibe comes, no doubt, from their relationship. A handsome and fit couple, Garrett and Martin seem to move in synch with one another. Almost all of the songs on No Complaints Whatsoever, their third album together, were co-written by the two.It almost didnt happen for them. Garrett and Martin were both part of the Aspen music scene of the 70s: She sang mostly in Liberty, an eclectic band that toured occasionally as the opening act for John Denver and recorded on Denvers Windsong label. Garrett was also part of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Bands 1976 tour of the Soviet Union. In the early 70s Martin played in the Hallam Street Band, before moving into Tanglefoot for the second half of the decade. But those were busy and productive days for Aspens performing musicians, and Garrett and Martin barely even crossed paths. In 1980, Martin left town, first for Nashville, then for Los Angeles, in both places making a living largely from his songwriting. Not until the mid-90s did they find one another, in Aspen; they now live at the new Willits neighborhood in Basalt. Martin has mostly given up his writing pursuits outside of his partnership with Garrett. In L.A. or Nashville, its always a crap-shoot, he said. When Im working with Jan, I know everything we love, were going to record.The two celebrate their new album with a pair of CD release parties: Friday at the Aspen Community Church, and Saturday, Oct. 18, at Steves Guitars in Carbondale. And now that theyve had the audacity to basically proclaim that they have no complaints whatsoever, they notice every little moment when they do cross over to the dark side.We have noticed how much we complain since we wrote that song, said Martin. You put it out there and it starts biting you in the ass, said Garrett. You become conscious of your own shortcomings. So its something to aspire to.And as Jan points out, you cant be grateful and complain at the same email@example.com
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