The Jorgensens New Album ‘The Lexington Stretch’

The Jorgensens’ album The Lexington is steeped in American music history. Although this pair is from Minnesota, the couple’s second and latest offering features a whole lot of New Orleans in it.

One titled “Storyville,” which Kurt Jorgensen sings, finds the singer/songwriter mentioning how he thinks he spies the ghost of Louie Armstrong while he’s down there. He’s in that city to find the world of his imagination, one not at all like the culture of the modern world. Like many of the songs on this 10-song release, these performers are backed by a jazzy, bluesy backing band, which includes lots of horns and keyboards.

While some of these songs are contemporary creations, one titled “St. James Infirmary” is the cover of an old, old song. It has a long history and dates all the way back to 1928. It’s associated with the aforementioned Louie Armstrong, but Lou Rawls, the Standells and Joe Cocker have all sung this familiar jazz/blues song. Even more contemporary artists have also had a go at it. This list includes Arlo Guthrie, Rickie Lee Jones and Jon Batiste. Its lyric was published in Carl Sandburg’s book The American Songbag, and it’s a kind of gambler’s lament, which is why it’s sometimes called “Gambler’s Blues.” The Jorgensens take it slow and sad, just the way it’s meant to be played.

Whenever Brianna Tagg Jorgensen sings, the music takes on a powerful soul sound. She’s heard growling her way through “Sweet Love.” She also gets a little Etta James-y on the loud and proud “Real Woman,” which features nice guitar and horn interplay. Her character in this song is a whole lot of woman; one that in turn needs a whole lot of man.

With “Voo Doo,” The Jorgensens give us a song that’s an updated play on the standard “That Old Black Magic.” The guitar part for this one is jazzy, as is especially its trumpet solo. The album closes with “Chocolate and Coffee Blues.” This last one also leans heavily to jazz due to its saxophone part. Brianna sings is with sly sultriness.

Much of this album either draws upon vintage styles or actual vintage songs. With “Babylon,” however, the duo gives us more of a contemporary blues song. It sounds like it would fit somewhere in a romantic movie set someplace in the deep south.

The Jorgensens clearly love soulful American music. Thus, they hold fast to old school sonic values. The instrumentation on this album topnotch, from beginning to end, and the singing is never less than passionate. The Lexington Stretch doesn’t sound like anything in popular music today. So, if you don’t much care for contemporary music, you’ll find a fast friend in The Jorgensens. If you’re a person of a certain age, the music of the pop charts just doesn’t speak to you – nor is it meant to anymore. If that describes you, perhaps this stylistic walk down memory lane will be more your speed. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, all the lyrical talk about New Orleans may just give you a hankering to visit Louisiana for Mardi Gras. This is really good stuff!

-Dan MacIntosh