Jeff Crosby and the Refugees

Waking Days – 2015 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Jeff Crosby and the Refugees

For starters, let's make it clear. Jeff Crosby isn't related to that Crosby, but there is a possibility that they share similar DNA. Jeff Crosby is a master storyteller whose songs evoke all kind of emotions, mostly the tender sentiments having to do with love, loss and longing. True, he doesn't necessarily expand the parameters of that oft-trod terrain, but there's not a single song on his new album, "Waking Days" that doesn't strike a responsive chord even on the first encounter.

While Crosby is obviously an adept composer, credit also has to go to his band, The Refugees, which consists of his brother, Andy Crosby, on bass, Will Prescott on drums and Dave Manion, who plays pedal steel and guitar. They give songs like "City Girls," "The Homeless and the Dreamers" and "Canyons" a sweeping stance that brings to mind such disparate forebears as Springsteen and Petty, while at the same time creating an evocative cinematic soundscape that recalls early Jackson Browne and Tom Waits in their solitude and suggestion. Tender ballads such as "Emily" and "Carved in Sandstone" are filled with the kind of desperation and desire that can distinguish a great songwriter and his or her ability to pluck the heartstrings in ways that relate to the listener.

Crosby's had previous successes in his short, but fertile career. Two songs ("Oh Love, Oh Lord" and "This Old Town") from his first album, 2013's "Silent Conversations," were featured on the FX series "Sons of Anarchy. His follow-up with The Refugees, "All Nighter," was similarly hailed. Now, with "Waking Days," Crosby seems well on his way to establishing a fruitful career. Consider Waking Days" the wake-up call.