Jeff Cramer Releases FORGIVE via PopMatters, Announces Debut Album
Colorado singer-songwriter Jeff Cramer is pleased to announce the upcoming release of his debut solo album, Northern 45, releasing January 25th, 2019. The songs on Northern 45 were a decade in the making, with each of them heralding back to Cramer's Midwestern roots and sense of adventure. Cramer's musical stories began to take form on his journey from northern Wisconsin to Bolivia and back to Washington D.C., up through the wilds of Maine, and through the crisp, mountainous air of Denver, Colorado. The first single, "Forgive," premieres today viaPopMatters, hailing the track as "a song that sounds plenty like the name on the tin, encapsulating a warm and wistful voice that pervades its overall presentation... Cramer's easygoing grit is enough to simultaneously captivate and soothe listeners as a breath of breezy guitar tones and rollicking percussion swirl around it."
Recorded at The Bomb Shelter recording studio in Nashville, TN, the album was produced by Jon Estes, bassist for John Paul White and Abigail Washburn. Eleven original songs on Northern 45 were written on various outposts during his travels along the northern 45th parallel (with many of them penned "way up theya in Maine," says Cramer). Life on the road is exciting, but it's still life, which means the complexity of love, loss, and the struggle for forgiveness. Cramer does a masterful job of taking the listener along on his geographical and emotional adventures. Even as he explores life's big questions, Cramer never takes himself too seriously; he's the kind of storyteller you'd love to share a campfire with.
In the wilds of "The Legend Bo Tim," Cramer explores the legend of a man who follows his dream to move to the frontier and live off of the land, only to become swallowed up by the land itself. He takes listeners on a journey through life, transition, and deliverance in the sunny, banjo-backed "In the Garden" - a song that found its roots in watching his grandfather pass on. Cramer's cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Colorado Girl" pays a masterful homage to his Denver home. Finally, backed by gentle finger-picking, the deeply autobiographical "The Rebel" channels the style and lonesome theme of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright."
"We made the record over about 12 days in March, which seemed to make up about the best two weeks of weather Nashville ever gets. Rather than picking a single sound and band, we opted for three or four different sonic landscapes featuring a few lineups, but always keeping the warmth of one of my three 50+ year old guitars and my voice on a vibey vintage Neumann U67 at the center," Cramer says. "Given the songs were written at various points across a decade, I think the approach matched the story of the record - keeping a balance of consistency and diversity of feel throughout the record."
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Cramer describes himself as a "creature of the lakes and songs, along with a good up north Old Fashioned." Any given night would find him, drink in hand, playing music by the light of a bonfire on the shores of his beloved northern lakes. He started writing his own songs in college (including two that are featured on the album - "Forgive" and "Big Man's World"). Cramer emerged from Clark University with a degree in philosophy and moved to northern Maine to pursue his other passion besides music: renewable energy.
There, near the tiny town of Enfield, he and a friend worked to rebuild an old off-the-grid micro-hydroelectric dam. During this time, Cramer spent a lot of time greasing and operating old Husqvarna chain saws, throwing three-story bonfires, reading, and working on the dam while listening to music powered by an old forklift battery and a couple of solar panels. Inspired by Bob Dylan's early recordings and autobiography as well as the music of Woody Guthrie and other Beat-era songwriters from New York's West Village, Cramer realized he was at a crossroads in his life. Did he move to the City, busk in the subways, and emulate his heroes, or did he move with his girlfriend to the highest capital city on earth - La Paz, Bolivia - to work for a small environmental foundation? "I followed the girl to the Altiplano," Cramer says, "and began a career in fighting climate change and supporting renewable energy." He continued playing his music in Bolivian and expat bars - and anywhere else that would have him when he made his way back to the U.S. to work as a lobbyist for renewable energy policies for the next decade.
About three years ago, Cramer made his way west to Denver - a place he plans to stay for a while. Along with his music, Cramer has continued working to promote local renewable energy. Currently, he leads a national coalition of businesses and non-profits working to expand access to solar power through community solar to all Americans.
After more than 10 years of adventure, hard work, love, loss, and more than a few Old Fashioneds, Cramer is ready to start telling the tales from his journey across the northern 45. Cramer will soon be traveling the globe to spread his message and music as he kicks off a tour in support of Northern 45. ?
For more information on Jeff Cramer: https://www.jeffcramer.com