Jack-Knife Gypsy by Paul Siebel on Apple Music

11 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Paul Siebel continues in the folk-storyteller mode that made his debut release, Woodsmoke and Oranges, so memorable. This time out, the Buffalo-born singer/songwriter opts for a more produced sound, enlisting such notable guest players as Byrds guitarist Clarence White and Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw. Siebel’s pinched, road-seasoned vocals give these tunes the feel of traditional ballads (albeit somewhat surreal ones). Narratives like “Jasper and the Miners,” “Legend of the Captain’s Daughter," and the title track add weird twists to familiar tales of working men, bandits, and fair maidens. With quick strokes, Siebel sketches portraits of oddball losers (“Uncle Dudley”), barroom angels (“Hillbilly Child”), and hapless outlaws (“Pinto Pony”), mixing absurdist humor with pathos. Dark ruminations like “Chips Are Down” are lightened by the reverent “Prayer Song.” Robert Zachary’s production combines country-rock arrangements with touches of strings and brass in spots. Lyrically vivid and filled with idiosyncratic personality, Jack-Knife Gypsy recalls Townes Van Zandt and Jimmie Dale Gilmore in its hard-bitten visionary grace.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Paul Siebel continues in the folk-storyteller mode that made his debut release, Woodsmoke and Oranges, so memorable. This time out, the Buffalo-born singer/songwriter opts for a more produced sound, enlisting such notable guest players as Byrds guitarist Clarence White and Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw. Siebel’s pinched, road-seasoned vocals give these tunes the feel of traditional ballads (albeit somewhat surreal ones). Narratives like “Jasper and the Miners,” “Legend of the Captain’s Daughter," and the title track add weird twists to familiar tales of working men, bandits, and fair maidens. With quick strokes, Siebel sketches portraits of oddball losers (“Uncle Dudley”), barroom angels (“Hillbilly Child”), and hapless outlaws (“Pinto Pony”), mixing absurdist humor with pathos. Dark ruminations like “Chips Are Down” are lightened by the reverent “Prayer Song.” Robert Zachary’s production combines country-rock arrangements with touches of strings and brass in spots. Lyrically vivid and filled with idiosyncratic personality, Jack-Knife Gypsy recalls Townes Van Zandt and Jimmie Dale Gilmore in its hard-bitten visionary grace.

TITLE TIME
2:37
3:42
3:27
4:47
3:54
2:58
2:23
4:25
2:03
3:10
4:30

About Paul Siebel

Despite the undeniably high quality of his songs -- which have been covered by the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Ian Matthews, and Waylon Jennings -- Paul Siebel is far from being a household name. Within folk circles and among songwriters, however, his two albums, 1969's Woodsmoke and Oranges and 1971's Jack-Knife Gypsy, are legendary.

Siebel was born in 1937 in Buffalo, NY. Inspired by Hank Williams and Hank Snow, he taught himself to play guitar while in his teens. By the early '60s, after serving in the military, he began playing folk clubs, eventually moving to Greenwich Village, where he found support in the coffeehouse circuit. In 1969, a collections of demos he made with David Bromberg caught the attention of Elektra Records owner Jac Holzman, who offered a him a modest recording deal. (Reportedly he was only given enough money to finance four three-hour recording sessions.) The resulting album, Woodsmoke and Oranges, was met with critical praise from the media, including Rolling Stone magazine. Despite the attention, the album and its equally praised follow-up, Jack-Knife Gypsy, sold disappointingly little. Aside from a live album released in 1981, Live at McCabes, Siebel retired from music. ~ Chris Woodstra

  • ORIGIN
    Buffalo, NY
  • BORN
    1937

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