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June 2014

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Jarekus Singleton
Refuse To Lose
Alligator Records

Jarekus Singleton

There’s a new gunslinger in the Alligator family and his name is Jarekus Singleton. I’ve been hearing buzz about Jarekus for over two years now and was happy to meet him on my recent trip to Memphis for the Blues Music Awards. His new disc, Refuse to Lose, had impressed me on the drive to the Bluff City and running into him was a plus. He’s an impressive young bluesman with the world ahead of him and his lyrics are some of the freshest I’ve heard in a long, long while. Thanks for helping bring the Blues into the 21st century. Jarekus. Time to give his disc a listen.

Up first is the title cut, “Refuse to Lose,” and Jarekus’ determination to succeed is more than evident. “Y’all ain’t caught on to it yet…maybe this time you won’t forget…I win at whatever I choose…cause I refuse to lose.” Jarekus is a vicious guitar player and the soaring riff that accompanies this tune has the entire record off on the right foot. We move on to “Purposely,” and here the woman in Jarekus’ life is attempting to drive him crazy. “Everything I say…you disagree with it, baby…our future was shining bright….whoa…now it’s just looking shady.” She’s attempting to change her man and Jarekus is having none of it. He’s smart enough to know he’s being played and this girl is heading down the road and out of his life.

There’s a strong drum backbeat to the next cut, “Gonna Let Go,” and Jarekus is planning on heading out on the town. “I’m gonna let go…lose control…and my problems won’t find me.” Jarekus has been working hard and despite the challenges of the week, it’s time to let loose. Jarekus’ guitar playing is very impressive and I’m enjoying his fretwork as we move onto “Crime Scene.” Jarekus is in love again and the woman in his life has managed to do nothing but hurt him. Her motives weren’t sincere and Jarekus is paying the price, “This is a crime scene, baby…not the kind on your TV…this is a crime scene, baby…and the victim is me.” It’s hard to say exactly what she wanted from Jarekus but its clear his heart wasn’t the prize.

“Keep Pushin” is an interesting tune that reflects Jarekus’s determination to succeed. “Back in 2007, I averaged 25 points per game…top five in the nation in points and assists…I had everyone screaming my name.” Jarekus was a talented basketball player who had tryouts with the Pacers and Cavaliers before an injury derailed his basketball career. Basketball’s loss is the Blues world's gain and we’re better off for it. I talked with Jarekus about this song in Memphis and told him I appreciated the way he pulled a fairly current situation in his life into his music.

“Suspicion” has a bit of a Latin feel to me while Jarekus shares his current thoughts about the woman in his life. “Something’s got you acting strange…I don’t know what it is…but you’re not the same…is it me…is it you…whatever it is…I’m suspecting so I need some proof.” What’s wrong isn’t clear, but Jarekus is right to have his suspicions. “Hell” is an unusual name for a tune to me and I hear some great B3 in the background as Jarekus’ guitar does the talking for him. “My life was standing still…my heart was hard as a knuckle…the furthest thing away from love…I gave my heart without a struggle…I nicknamed you Stevie Ray Vaughn…from day one…you’ve been double trouble.” For whatever reason the girl won’t communicate with Jarekus and he’s gone through hell trying to figure her out.

The upbeat “Hero” is next and Jarekus is expounding on those who have influenced his life. “So you act like a superstar…but you had me fooled…cause I thought the same thing…til I found out…you were cheating people…mistreating people…man, that’s a damned shame.” Sometimes our heroes are not who we think we are and Jarekus is right to move onward and upward to the beat of his own drummer. The guitar assault continues as Jarekus picks his way through the intro of “High Minded.” “A turtle can’t move, baby…if his neck ain’t out of the shell…plus, you’re way too green…this ain’t training day…and my name ain’t Denzel.” For whatever reason, the woman Jarekus is singing about plays a better game than she actually has. He’s wise to her and it won’t be long before she’s gone. “But when I think about the pain you’ve caused…I don’t feel sorry at all” is the intro to “Sorry” and we find Jarekus with another problem woman on his hands. While he sympathizes with her aspirations, Jarekus is nobody’s fool and this one is out the door.

A heavy bass line provides the initial intro for Jarekus’s next tune, “Blame Game.” “I’ve soaked all my friends…and all my loved ones are getting drained…my boss is a jerk…he complained every time I went to sleep.” Brandon Santini is blowing some harp in the background of this tune and Jarekus continues to look to others for the bad luck he’s been laboring through. This time it’s on you, Jarekus, fix it my friend.

“Come Wit Me” is the final cut on the disc and Jarekus is trying to entice his girlfriend to join him on the road. “Come wit me, baby…I’m going to turn your world around.” It’s up to Jarekus to deliver but he appears motivated and I’m sure he’ll make it happen.

Refuse to Lose represents a fresh take on the Blues and I’m thinking the future is very bright for one Jarekus Singleton. The man writes great lyrics, plays a bad ass guitar and has managed to put out a disc that I feel will get serious consideration for next year’s Blues Music Awards. Alligator’s website is probably the easiest place to grab a copy of Jarekus’s new disc. I’ve yet to see him play live, but I’m hoping to rectify that very soon. Jarekus has a very busy summer tour schedule though somebody needs to bring him out here to the west. In the meantime, I’m just going to hit play and sit back for another replay of Refuse to Lose.

--- Kyle Deibler



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