Ask Broken Arrow’s J.D. McPherson if he has made any New Year’s resolutions and a list of abandoned promises from years prior comes out. He has “halfway mastered longbow archery” and is just about finished reading The Grapes of Wrath.
“As stalwart an Okie as I claim to be, I’d never read it,” McPherson said. “I know what happens at the end of the book; I just didn’t get there.”
But, to be fair, he has been a little busy. McPherson is just now coming down from three years of rigorous touring and promoting his critically acclaimed debut album, Signs & Signifiers, originally released in 2010 and then rereleased by Rounder Records in April 2012.
It makes sense, then, that he’s hesitant to lay out any definitive plans for the next year, though fans can expect a sophomore release, which the band recently finished tracking at Soil of the South Studios with Grammy-winning producer Mark Neill (probably best known for his work on The Black Keys’ star-making album Brothers).
This despite McPherson not having much downtime to work on new material.
“It is not the best way to do it, but a lot of the material was created and arranged in the studio, which is why it took longer than it should have,” he said. “Three sessions turned into six or seven. I haven’t, in the past, been wired to write on the road, but that’s something we’re going to try to change, because we learned how not to make a record this time.”
Working with Neill meant bassist Jimmy Sutton — who produced Signs & Signifiers at his studio in Chicago — handed over the primary production reins. And that’s not all that has changed.
“There’s kind of a different slant to this record, coming pretty much from the top down,” McPherson said. “We have a solid lineup now, and everybody brings something different. It’s a way more guitar-centric record, just more rock and roll than the first one, which really leaned on the ’50s R&B stuff. Plus, I took a lot more chances lyrically. I’ll be interested to see where this thing ends up.”
In the meantime, McPherson and his band will join Texas singer-songwriter Hayes Carll for a string of regional holiday shows. McPherson’s R&B and rockabilly style may differ from Carll’s country leanings, but McPherson — inarguably a roots musician of a different variety — said he jumped at the invitation to join Carll on his annual end-of-year run.
Friday’s date at Cain’s Ballroom means one more opportunity for Oklahoma fans to ring out 2013 with McPherson, but those who can’t make it — fear not. In the next year, it’s safe to say we’ll hear plenty from McPherson. He’s not going anywhere, because he’ll be everywhere.
“We’ll be really attacking the next record, maybe even more than the first one. We’re anxious to get this out, and our record label seems to be very excited,” McPherson said. “There’s work to be done, videos to be made, shows to be played.”