By the time that he relocated to Europe from his native Melbourne in 2010, Jaimi Faulkner had already racked up an impressive list of credits as a powerful, soulful singer, exceptional guitarist and songwriter of great potential. His debut album “Last Light” (2004) garnered rave reviews in Australia and received considerable airplay there. Faulkner devoted the next years to extensive live performance, both as a solo artist and as support with touring acts such as Chris Whitley and Chris Isaak, as well as being nominated to represent Australia at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. His next full length album “Kiss and Ride” (2009) underlined his growing abilities as a songwriter, producer and arranger and brought Jaimi to the attention of European audiences for the first time. The chemistry was right and after a couple of successful tours in Germany and the Netherlands he made the decision to move to Berlin and explore what life there had to offer.
Fast forward to 2017: Jaimi Faulkner releases “Back Road”, his fourth European album and the first to be completely self produced and engineered. Following the more pop-oriented “Up All Night” (2015), it marks a return to the rootsy rock’n’roll and Americana that characterized his earlier work and for the first time does proper justice to his long-time backing band, featuring Leon Den Engelsen on piano and Hammond organ, Judith Renkema on bass and Luuk Adams on drums.
In November 2016, Jaimi and the band moved into an old farmhouse near Bremen with their equipment plus Jaimi’s portable studio, set up their gear and started work on the new album. All songs were recorded live, before adding a few overdubs, and the entire production came together within two weeks. Its tight, live feel reflects both the relaxed studio environment and the band’s command of the material. Later, backing vocals were recorded in the Netherlands and during an Australian tour. Though the focus is firmly on the songs, Faulkner’s superb guitar playing really comes into its own on “Back Road”, providing the perfect foil to his vocals as well as delivering a string of great solos. And speaking of vocals, Jaimi Faulkner has a voice to die for, an effortlessly warm, throaty tenor which packs a real emotional punch while never seeming contrived. It lends his self penned songs the rare quality of total conviction and puts him right up there with today’s finest singers.
Which brings us to the songs. Ranging from autobiographical reflections to world-weary observations on the current political environment, the 11 all new compositions on “Back Road” run the gamut from catchy acoustic ballads to straight up rockers, framed by Faulkner’s guitar and Engelsen’s keyboards and underpinned by the punchy rhythm section of Renkema and Adams. These performances underline the fact that Jaimi and his band have been working and playing together for years and they exude that easy assurance born of total familiarity, running together like a well oiled machine. From the evocative atmosphere of 9929 Miles to the dark gospel tinged blues of All My Hope Is Gone, the catchy country pop of Like You Did Back Then to the classic rock’n’roll of I Can’t Hold On or the duelling guitars of the title track, the songs on Back Road show Jaimi Faulkner coming to grips with maturity and pulling all the elements together to realize his potential as a writer, singer, musician and arranger. They represent his most coherent and convincing work to date.