JD McPherson grew up on a farm in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He started playing in bands when he was 16– punk music in the Lollapalooza age of rap coexisting in jagged harmony with grunge and industrial. JD’s tastes began to flow backwards with his rediscovery of Buddy Holly. JD immersed himself in the music of the original rebellion– Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley… After graduating from the University of Tulsa, JD taught middle school art. He took his duties seriously and attempted to broaden his students palate with performance and musical art as well as physical. He formed a mix-tape club to promote different bands and styles. JD McPherson thought in terms of the future being built on the beautiful foundation of rock n’ roll. His contract was not renewed.
JD spent time in the Starkweather Boys, a rockabilly band with an Imperial/Sun style, and released his first solo effort, Signs and Signifiers, in 2010. He’d fallen deep into the retro fittings of early rock n’ roll, worked steady. JD found his notions challenged after working with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys– an artist capable of and nearly dedicated to shifting styles. Between the transition from educator to full time musician and balancing a family with touring responsibilities, JD had found his groove. Auerbach encouraged him to jump that groove inspite of its comfort, and in 2015 JD released Let The Good Times Roll– a rebel rousin’ conglomeration of rock n’ roll aspects that appealed to enthusiasts of all genres.
JD released Undivided Heart & Soul in October of 2017. It was recorded in Nashville at RCA Studio B– a room that’s felt Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, and The Everly Brothers. To say those echoes linger is certainly a hope and probably a truth. The album is everything and nothing you’d expect. Yes, it’s thick with flang and reverb evocative of Link Wray, but it’s utterly contemporary. If you’ve kept up the slightest with the happenings in Americana music then nothing about Undivided Heart & Soul should surprise you and everything should excite you. Collaborations with pop-topper Butch Walker and Parker Millsap keep the album accessible. There’s a pleasant indie vibe from Holly Laessig and Jesse Wolf from Lucius as well as Jack Lawrence from the Raconteurs that provides a feint but hip bubblegummy-ness that’s just catchy enough. Add to that the absolute attitude of Aaron Lee Tasjan, and the hits just keep on a’ keepin’ on. Other guest appearances include Neptune (New Jersey, that is) native Nicole Atkins and JD’s wife Mandy.
Prior to recording Undivided Heart & Soul, JD spent time jamming and rehearsing with Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. If Auerbach had nudged McPherson out of a comfort zone, then it was Homme who challenged him to embrace his personal experiences as a songwriter. JD McPherson, like rock n’ roll is evolving. Rather than simply rehashing traits and tropes of decades past, he’s completing his original lesson plan from his teaching days. JD McPherson’s got the history of rock n’ roll down to science, and he’s crafting it’s future.