REVIEW: Aaron Jaxon Band — Saints Communion (EP)

East Texas native, now Johnson City, Tennessee transplant, Aaron Jaxon and his band are set for a memorable 2021 on the back of their latest release. The ten track album Saints Communion is a glorious return for Jaxon that leaves previous fine efforts such as 2015’s Light on the Inside seeming like mere practice for greater glories to come.

Those glories have arrived. The first track “Legions” is muscular radio-ready guitar rock that sounds akin to a man unleashed. Jaxon isn’t completely unbridled, well-honed craftsmanship defines every aspect of the track, but his impassioned vocal held my attention without any difficulty. “Legions” boasts potent lead guitar playing throughout and the vocal arrangement emphasizes Jaxon’s lyrics.

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Incorporating a poetic bent to lyrics with a hard-charging musical attack is no easy feat. Jaxon’s phrasing, however, has a dramatic quality matching the music. “Fire, Space, and Time” dials up the tempo and but its frantic pace never excludes the possibility of nuance. There’s plenty of that detectable in the fiery blues of the song’s guitar solo and the interplay between the six string and Hammond organ.

“Long Before the Sun” has Jaxon taking his foot off the gas pedal. It is a mid-tempo track, nonetheless, and has some of the same raw-boned power we hear in the album’s opening duo. It adopts the same musical template guiding those cuts — guitar, bass, drums, and organ once again build an impressively seamless listening experience.

He hits an indisputable peak with the song “Abriel”. Press materials advertise this as being inspired by his girlfriend and it is definitely a personal love song, but the song is illustrative of an even more significant accomplishment. Fusing together such autobiographically forthright material as this with an aggressive yet fully commercial sound achieves unique and idiosyncratic results. I believe the double-tracked vocals during “Pentecostal Blues” are a pointless affectation. It doesn’t sabotage the track’s potential, however, and a big reason for that is Jaxon’s rollicking phrasing. The song is a power-pack of energy.

“Heretics” has pristine and buoyant instrumentation, particularly during the opening, but it maintains that inviting mood throughout the track. There’s a vivid polish operating, part and parcel, with the retro vibe Jaxon attempts achieving with his music. “Noise in Your Nightmare” shares a similar texture with the preceding song. The arrangement isn’t as busy here, however, and the additional airiness helps “Noise in Your Nightmare” breathe in a way the earlier song does not.

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Jaxon’s penchant for lean songwriting that ignores any sideshows continues with the closer “House of Glass”. The deliberate pacing of the guitar riff has the potential to bore listeners but Jaxon dices things up enough to give it needed variety. His lyrical skills are every bit as much in evidence with this track as they are during the preceding nine songs and it strikes the right thematic note as the album’s final curtain. The Aaron Jaxon Band is back to stay with a fantastic release certain to satisfy many and his songwriting achieves a level of unity few artists ever reach.

Colin Jordan

Graduate: McNeese State University, Avid Beekeeper, Deep Sea Diver & Fisherman, Horrible Golfer