It’s when you try to label artists such as Jason Ringenberg that you realise the limitation and ultimate pointlessness of genres. Americana certainly comes close as a description but that seems such a broad term that it doesn’t really convey anything much except for something about the musical fabric of the land it takes its name from. A collision of rock and country in the same vein as bands such as The Georgia Satellites and The Rainmakers who crashed through around the same time that he was fronting his own seminal band The Scorchers? Alt-country from a time before that particular moniker was the cool term to bandy about? Hang on, let’s start again.
Jason Ringenberg writes kick-ass songs, simple as that! Always has and I don’t see a reason why that will ever not be the case and like the front man of the aforementioned Rainmakers, Bob Walkenhorst, he does so with that typical southern mix of sin and redemption, tradition and punk spirit, the profound and the profane, wit and wisdom. Just bend your ear around John The Baptist was a Real Humdinger for such lyrical delights or God Bless The Ramones for the point where country and punk collide.
And such is the deft musical charm of Ringenberg’s writing and Stand Tall is spirited and fun, nostalgic and celebratory, a foot on the monitor sonic charge but it is also an album full of wonderful tales and vivid characters from disillusioned Confederate soldiers to ageing Hobos as well as finding inspiration in such unlikely places such as the grandeur and impressiveness of Sequoia trees.
Jason Ringenberg has perhaps been somewhat overlooked in the annals of American music but Stand Tall remind us that he is able to pen albums which before long will be regarded as classics, albums that capture the essence of the American experience from the boots up, musical history books, cultural dissertations and party songs all rolled into one. If you do need to tie things down generically then I guess you could call it country music but if so it just goes to show that not all country music is just made for line dancing.