Jack Rose died last December at the age of 38, a heart attack ending a short, but musically fruitful life. Despite a short run as a solo artist, Rose left behind an inventive catalogue spread across a series of albums that spotlighted his guitar and lap slide abilities, capped by Luck in the Valley, released in February on Thrill Jockey Records.
Wielding drone as easily as ragtime, Luck in the Valley emanates a clear vision and concise execution, and Rose explores spaces into which the acoustic guitar has rarely traveled. A master steel string picker, his virtuosity is equal parts past and future; his passion for old-time styles emerges immediately on this new release in the raga themes of “Blues for Percy Danforth” that rattle through antiquated guitar tones. Rose’s trademark sound emanates a warm intensity that compliments his technique; “Lick Mountain Ramble” is a loose, casual pickin’ party, true to its name but with a progressive bent. When looking back to the roots of rag and blues with the W.C. Handy-penned “Saint Louis Blues,” Rose draws classicism into the present with a deft respect and an expansive gait.
Jack Rose is yet another bright talent that was lost too soon. But Rose embraced his short time on Earth with vigor; he clearly and distinctively defined himself with a rich and expansive body of music that dazzled listeners during his life and will continue to resonate into the future.
Luck in the Valley is out now on Thrill Jockey.