It’s not difficult to trace the musical lineage of Jerry David DeCicca, from the rural pioneers of the twenties and thirties charted by Harry Smith in his 1950s Anthology of American Folk Music, through Bob Dylan’s The Basement Tapes and The Band’s Music from Big Pink, on to the Americana movement of more recent times.
Yet influences and similarities (in respect of the latter, we might note Ethan Johns’ beautiful first album, If Not Now, Then When?) mean little if, unlike Time the Teacher, the most recent manifestation merely leans on its predecessors and is solely derivative.
DeCicca certainly is not essaying much that is new. However, there is a delightful delicacy of touch in his compositions and vocal delivery that deserves attention. Variations on a few themes admittedly, but the songs are very well presented, and the sense of cohesion throughout the album is impressive.
The rural Texas hill country context naturally is a major presence but, as on the title track, DeCicca brings an individuality of arrangement and delivery that works very well. It’s an imaginative collage, albeit within a narrow frame. There is an engagement with character and emotion that is never sentimental or cloying; merely affectionate or wry, as on the lovely "Grandma’s Tattoo" where he ponders the personalities and events over the years that are now permanently signified in a laconic fleshy image on a laundrette’s aged customer.
Sensitive production brings out the best of DeCicca’s imaginative style, with effective touches here and there of gospel choir and a few intelligently-restrained jazz bass rhythms on an album of self-effacing quality.