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Jay Graboski — Authentic Fake
(Ohomusic 073, 2023, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-06-16

Authentic Fake Cover art

Graboski has been a member of Baltimore based band Oho since before their 1974 debut album Okinawa. Which makes his tenure in that band about 50 years, and it wasn’t until 2019 that he released any recordings under his own name, that being Just Jay (& His Sonic Sphere of Acquaintance) - Steps 1971-2019, though to be fair, that was mostly made up of recordings he had made with various bands over a long period of time. This latest album, Authentic Fake, is the first that was conceived as a Jay Graboski album from the very beginning; even that said the recordings took place over a period of eight years beginning in 2016, with numerous guests joining in as it proceeded over the duration. One thing that can be said is that all of its twenty cuts save one were composed by Graboski, with only a few cases where the songwriting credits were shared with others. No less than a dozen musicians participated in its creation, with Graboski (vocals, guitars, bass, keys, percussion, glockenspiel), Ray Jozwiak (accordion, keyboards, Moog Sub Phatty), Dave Kelly (of Passionfix: more guitars, keyboards, drum programming, engineering, percussion), Harry Maben (drums on some tracks), David Reeve (drums on other tracks, keyboards, engineering), and Bill Phelan (backing vocals, 12 string, pedal steel, lap slide, mandolin and recorder) being the primaries. Nearly all of the songs — except two instrumentals — feature vocals and thoughtful lyrics, a very high standard of songcraft, arrangement and production, and almost every one of these cuts could be at home on one of the Oho albums, past or recent. With so many songs of a high caliber on hand, it’s really difficult to name the standouts, but one can try; the vocal harmonies and arrangements on “Hidden Agenda” and the title track truly stand out from the rest, while the lyrics on “Dot on the Door” are certainly thought provoking. Some of the more harder rocking numbers like opener “In Dotage,” “Out on a Limb,” and “The Witness Watchers” pack a significant amount of power, and the two instrumentals, “Well, I’ll Be” and “Frog Legs,” are both tasty numbers with a genuinely folky vibe. The final six tracks are grouped together as The Dagger Chandelier EP, though the music therein is just as varied and interesting as the rest of the album.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Jay Graboski

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