Boundary-breaking and genre-defying are handy terms to use in describing musical artists, but while they can lend a certain cachet to a project, music that really eludes easy description is actually pretty rare. Still, if such terms can be applied to any group at all, the Jon Stickley Trio is at the head of the line for such treatment. For while the music made by guitarist Stickley, violinist Lyndsay Pruett and percussionist Hunter Deacon contains innumerable influences that dart in and out of a listener’s ear, its all-instrumental essence is truly unique. And while the Trio’s 2020 debut for Organic Records, Scripting The Flip, was a convincing enough depiction of the group’s distinctive identity to earn rave reviews from jazz and Americana publications alike, their new album, Meantime’s Up, serves up compelling proof that they’ve been digging even deeper.
Building on singles the Trio has released over the past two years, Meantime’s Up may best fit under the jazz umbrella, expertly matching inspiration and execution in a series of collective creations knit together with a handful of interludes given over to their individual members. The result is at once engagingly diverse and yet artistically coherent, even as individual entries like “Future Ghost,” “In And About” and “Golden Eagle” — all previously-released singles — exhibit the same traits in miniature, with multiple themes and moods, while others, like the new “Preston’s Tune,” a grassy flatpicking showcase, or Pruett’s “Death By Rainbow,” are deeper explorations of single textures and grooves. Rounded out by the focused interludes — Pruett’s lushly melodic “Consequence of Desire,” Stickley’s moody “Moonbow” and “Morning Candy,” and Deacon’s epic explorations of percussive tonality, “Causeway Pt. 1” and “Causeway Pt. 2” — the 50+ minute project is an expansive offering that brings to mind such archetypal suites as Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition, taking listeners on a lengthy, ever-changing journey to the heart of the Trio’s creativity. And with its devotion to rich tones and its elegant counterpoints, Meantime’s Up is perfectly suited to a full treatment in the exciting new sonic landscape of Dolby Atmos, available on Apple Music, Amazon Music and TIDAL.
Allowing listeners to feel as if they're inside the song itself, Dolby Atmos is familiar to many from its “surround sound” application in thousands of movie theaters. It is described by the respected sound technology innovator as “revealing depth, clarity and details like never before….a sound experience you can feel all around you.” Audio produced in Dolby Atmos adapts automatically to your Atmos-compatible device and system to give you an unexpected, all-enveloping sound experience.
“This album was recorded over a 3-year period of time that coincided with the Pandemic, and the birth of my two children,” says Stickley. “When I listen to this record, I can hear the personal changes and creative growth that was happening during this period where babies often replaced the guitar in my arms. When composing the tunes for this album, we consciously leaned toward the beautiful notes. Lyndsay and Hunter get to really stretch out on this record, and they played more incredibly than ever. Per usual, we had fun exploring some new musical territory but at the same time, songs like ‘Preston’s Tune,’ which is dedicated to the late Preston Thompson, revisit our pickin’ roots.
“The title idea is a combo of ‘in the meantime’ and ‘time’s up’,” he adds, “and there’s also a double entendre with ‘meantime’ being over. It’s about moving forward and going from a place of hesitations and procrastination, and just going for it. The album was recorded during the big lull and now it’s time to get back at it with clarity and perspective — out of a place of negativity and frustration, to somewhere more positive.”
Listen to Meantime's Up HERE.