Album Review

Jason Wilber - King For A Day

Jason Wilber - King For A Day

Most guitar slingers would be content with Jason Wilber's gig as John Prine's lead player. But anyone who has seen him opening for Prine knows there is much more to Wilber than his smoking leads. A humble yet self-assured guy who has been active in the Bloomington, Indiana, roots music scene since stepping out in a rockabilly band at age 13, Wilber has the songwriting skills and charisma to stand on his own, and is a great interpreter of choice songs. King For A Day trims back a bit from the full-on country-rock sound of his previous solo releases (Behind The Midway and Lost In Your Hometown), but Wilber's music remains as engaging as ever and just as musically satisfying. The album begins with a witty Wilber original in which he fantasizes about what it would be like to be Elvis for a day. A mid-tempo fingerpicked reading of Otis Blackwell's "Don't Be Cruel" is the perfect follow-up. Next is Gary Nicholson and Wally Wilson's "Pay Bo Diddley", which showcases the chemistry between Wilber and fellow Hoosier guitarist David Steele. The next three songs present Wilber's songwriting and performance skills at their best. "Tin Angels" and "Satellite" are lyrically enigmatic and open to personal interpretation; "Talk About 69" is more literal and fashioned after Woody Guthrie's talking-blues style. The latter third of the album holds two touching original love songs ("In Her Veins", "Silver Linings") and two more reverent covers -- Rowland Salley's "Killing The Blues" (a true archetype of a song previously recorded by Prine, Shawn Colvin and Chris Smither) and the early Prine story-song, "Sabu Visits the Twin Cities Alone".