Reviews: At Least That Much Was True

SONGLIST: Never Saw it Go / Let Her Go / Wrong Train / Austin When it Rains / Girl of The North Country / Because of You / Train From Amsterdam / White Cross / So the Blues Would Stay / Scrapbook / Chet Baker Street (Bonus Track)

“Talmadge is indeed a standard-bearer for the tradition of reflective, conversational Texas songwriters that includes Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. In a whiskey baritone, he delivers his lyrical, poetic songs half-sung, half-spoken, as if he’s at a roadside bar telling a story he’s told a hundred times before and knows it will deliver a great punch every time he tells it. The songs turn on crisp quotable lines … but their simplicity allows the earnest story-telling and poetic lyrics to shine through ….Here’s hoping he keeps finding time to produce exceptional albums like this one….”
— Sing Out! Spring 2008

“Like a master poet, he has stripped away all but the essence of what he needs to tell his stories – simple fingerpicked guitar lines, strong memorable melodies, a chorus that brings the listener in, an occasional embellishment by Lloyd Maines on steel guitar or Rich Bowden on fiddle. Some artists lure listeners in by seeming to have innate knowledge that has eluded the rest of us, like some Tibeten monk who can summarize the meaning of existence in a riddle. Jeff Talmadge is the other kind of artist: The songwriter who is one of us, who finds life itself a universal riddle, but whose work is to interpret small pieces of that mystery and present it so that we all garner some truth from it.”
— Jay Votel, Folk News (World Folk Music Association), Fall 2007 (U.S.)

“Superlative… [T]he smallest details scattered like seeds resonate into poetry, simple on paper but bearing the weight of everyday experiences….While readily identifiable as stemming from the rich tradition of tales and conversational asides Texas is well-noted for, Talmadge doesn’t (need to) ride any outlaw trail, nor is he particularly following any archetypal folkie bent….[H]ere is a rarefied travel writer along life’s timelines. It would be criminal to allow him to proceed unchecked.”
— Maverick, August 2007 (U.K.)

“Texas singer-songwriter Jeff Talmadge’s latest is just 11 songs, but you get four distinct mood and style changes. On the opening four tracks he evokes John Prine in his use of raspy voice, Americana themes and wry innuendos. But then he moves into folk troubadour mode, starting with a glorious cover of Bob Dylan’s “Girl of the North Country,” before turning absolutely sweet on some love songs. The bonus track is the final revelation. “Chet Baker Street” is true to its title, with Talmadge channeling Baker’s dreamy, drifting cadences and spirit. In an age in which too many releases are the length of Tom Wolfe novels, this thoughtful and well-executed release is proof you can pack a lot into a small musical package.”
— Hartford Advocate, August 2007 (U.S.)

“Only once in a very long while does a musician like Jeff Talmadge come along. Each of his albums (six to date) has had, without exception, critics drooling over the singer/writer with the ability to paint lyrical landscapes of life and frame them with tunes of unsurpassed excellence so that they stay with he listener for a very long time. He began his recording career … in 1999 and continued ,,, through …his current masterpiece, At Least That Much Was True…Eleven glorious songs beautifully performed by Talmadge, assisted by some of the best pickers in the Lone Star State….An album to be cherished.”
— Pete Smith (FAB-AM), July 2007, The Advertiser (UK)

“An entirely beautiful acoustic folk ambience. Jeff Talmadge commands respect with the purity of his songs on the one hand, but also with great finesse, rich with sublime instrumentation….Talmadge is really worth the detour, and after his sixth opus, it is unpardonable not to own at least one of his albums.”
— French Association of Country Music (, August 2007 (France)

“[At Least That Much Was True] confirms his talent for great story-based songs based around melodies that lodge themselves in your consciousness….Accompanied by some of the finest musicians that Nashville and Austin have to offer, this is a worthy addition to the Americana/roots canon.”
— Birmingham Post, June 2007 (U.K.)

“Jeff Talmadge’s third CD for Corazong Records, At Least That Much Was True, is his best so far….Obviously, comparisons can be made to the school of well-known Texas singer-songwriters, but Jeff Talmadge has found his own way in the larger music world….. At Least That Much Was True is one of the better singer songwriter discs of the year.”
— Dutch Roots Radio, “Blueprint,” March 2007 (The Netherlands)

“Lovers of singer-songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, David Olney and Guy Clark should hear [this CD]. Jeff Talmadge is part of the group of Texas songwriters and proves with [At Least That Much Was True] that he, too, is a great talent. His dark and restrained songs one by one tell the most moving stories. He has collected excellent musicians that know how to lay down just the right musical accents to his pleasant voice…. It is more and more apparent that he will soon be in the top drawer of the singer-songwriters guild. His way of storytelling looks easy, but that is the art…. [I]t’s solid and credible from beginning to end…. [A] particularly warm and pleasing album, which can finally bring Jeff Talmadge the break he well deserves. A class act!”
— Rootstime, March 2007 (Belgium)

“Jeff Talmadge is capable, like no other, of communicating feelings like Townes Van Zandt. He deserves to be as well known as Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, Tom Russell and Richard Dobson.”
— Country Gazette, March 2007 (The Netherlands)

“Jeff Talmadge, whose voice is reminiscent of Richard Shindell’s, continues on the musical path on which he embarked with Gravity, Grace and the Moon (2003) and Blissville (2004). This yields no surprises, but indeed much well-cared-for music, with the steel guitar and dobro of Lloyd Maines and the accordion of Chip Dolan serving as musical flavorings. With a fine cover of Dylan’s “Girl of the North Country” and a jazzy closer, “Chet Baker Street.”
— Financieel Dagblad, March 2007 (The Netherlands)

“[4 stars] Fine songs, written in the tradition of other known Texan singer-songwriters…. This CD is a worthy successor to the highly lauded Blissville.”
— PlatoMania, April 2007 (The Netherlands)

“There isn’t a bad song on the CD…. There are a plethora of singer songwriters in America who fall into the fairly amorphous category now referred to as Americana. Many have jumped on the bandwagon but are little more than average. In the case of Jeff Talmadge, he is a singer and lyricist who stands head and shoulders above the pack and has every right to be regarded in the same high esteem as those singer songwriters at the height of their creative powers he has sought to emulate.”
— Folk North West, Summer 2007 (U.K.)

Jeff Talmadge stands in the shadow of great Texas songwriters. That has more to do with image than with songwriting skill. Talmadge doesn’t have the aura of drama surrounding him like Guy Clark or Townes Van Zandt. That makes him not so much the hero of the Blue Highways crowd, but much more that of a small group of connoisseurs for whom the sound is more important than the image. On At Least That Much Was True, his sixth solo CD, traveling is the central theme, rounded out with reveries of love and some storytelling jewels in addition to a message. … Talmadge chooses quite different combinations of instruments [steel guitar and dobro of Lloyd Maines, accordion of Chip Dolan and harmonica of Rich Brock], each time with beautiful and solid guitar picking as the foundation…. [W]ith his demonstrated expertise over the past decade, he has by now earned a place on a stage like, for example, Blue Highways.
–Hanx, March 2007 (The Netherlands)

[4 stars] In the hit parade of our personal favorite singer songwriters [Jeff] advances a number of places … particularly warmly recommended!
–CtrlAltCountry, March 2007 (Belgium)

Gravity, Grace and the Moon received laudatory reviews, and with Blissville it was no different. Yet, I get the feeling that the praise by itself doesn’t really bring an artist like this to the larger public. He is well known among music connoisseurs, but how about everyone else? Possibly this, his third CD [for Corazong] is headed for that [wider appreciation]. The really spectacular gathering of musicians, including Lloyd Maines, Bradley Kopp and John Gardner, immediately shows that the music can’t be beat. The lovely, laidback sound that feels especially atmospheric is brilliantly sung with Talmadge’s patented quiet voice. I find it altogether heart-rending. Jeff is a multitalented late-bloomer whom I compare effortlessly with established luminaries Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker and Steve Young. Again, a genuinely authentic storyteller who knows how to captivate and who deserves to be heard.
–Real Roots Café, March 2007 (The Netherlands)

Sixth album from the Texan poet, a worthy heir to Townes Van Zandt or Guy Clark.
–Blue Umbrella, April 2007 (France)

Talmadge’s lyrics on these … songs are predictably strong….The songs are thematically pure, meshing roads and personal relationships flawlessly….The roads he travels are asphalt and concrete but are equally real as inner journeys.
–Buddy, June 2007 (U.S.)

[4 stars] Talmadge makes quiet music in the roots and country tradition and he does it excellently. He is surrounded by great musicians, and he has a wonderful voice himself. These facts, added to his experienced lyrics, … bring us a very beautiful album. His version of Dylan’s “Girl of the North Country” is convincing, but the best songs are from his own hand.
–Heaven, April 2007 (The Netherlands)

Already an active lawyer and prize winning songwriter, [Jeff] now demonstrates his special skill in the music world.
–Musikarchiv Online, March 2007 (Germany)

Above all, [Jeff] is a passionate musician, with a singing and guitar style quite his own. At Least That Much Was True is a very pleasant mix of Americana, country and southern music, with a jazzy touch on “Chet Baker Street.”
–SBStext (SBS Broadcasting), April 2007 (The Netherlands)

Jeff Talmadge has such a pleasant, warm voice that goes nicely in the winter by the fire, but also in the summer on a sultry evening….[H]e makes very beautiful songs with a country atmosphere, particularly the ones with steel guitar. His lyrics frequently have a slightly philosophical impact, and it’s worth it to take the time to listen to what he has to tell.
–Folkforum, April 2007 (The Netherlands)

A real musical gem. [His] warm voice and beautiful arrangements are a real pleasure. This CD is another testimony to [his] talent.
–Radio ISA (M. Penard), April 2007 (France)

Great album! Our personal favorite is “Wrong Train.” It chilled us to the bone.
–Texas Radio (Eddy and Ria Veldkamp), March 2007 (The Netherlands)

The new album from Jeff, in his characteristic country folk style….[He] does not have the same renown as Guy Clark or Townes Van Zandt, but he nevertheless draws from the same category of Austin songwriters. The melodic ballads benefit from the support Lloyd Maines’ steel guitar, itself strong and beautiful, the best examples of which are “Let Her Go,” Wrong Train” and “Austin When it Rains.” It’s time that one considers Jeff for the programming of the hexagonal festivals [the annual festivals in metropolitan France].
–Le Cris du Coyote, May 2007 (France)

“Then every broken piece fell into place” from the song “Train from Amsterdam” is more or less the key sentence on this CD. Jeff Talmadge doesn’t wallow in misery. In calm, melancholic songs, this Texas singer-songwriter, blessed with a warm baritone, marvels at how life remains surprising….
–Noordhollands Dagblad, March 2007 (The Netherlands)

Jeff is a master storyteller, where, for example, “Train from Amsterdam” reminds me of Allan Taylor’s “Crazy Amsterdam.” … [A] gifted songwriter who knows how to work magic, let’s not forget that these songs grow from the musical input of Rich Bowden, Rich Brock’s magnificent harmonica, Tim Thompson and Bradley Kopp on guitars, David Webb on keyboards and Rand McCullough on back vocals.
–Mazz Musikas, (formerly Roots Town Music), No. 66 (The Netherlands)

Every year at the Riverbend Festival I run across one, sometimes two or three acts that totally enthrall me with their talents. Sometimes it takes a little while for such enthrallment to set in, to take hold – but not this time. Jeff Talmadge, a modern day minstrel currently hailing from Georgia, has left his imprint on me like inked remnants of scribbled masterpieces….Talmadge has a gift for parlaying the simple line of poetry into the profundity that it, invariably, becomes when a listener takes that line into his heart. I’m not exactly sure how this alchemy of simplicity and profundity occurs, but I know it does because I can hear it when it plays those heartstrings within. Talmadge may not know, either, but he has the gift, and he has offered to share it with the world….Talmadge does not seem to miss much in the way of observation….Depending upon the moment, the audience, and the songs chosen, Talmadge might be perceived as having a dark poet edge, with a streak of whimsy playing tug-of-war with his thoughts. While some of the songs … contain stark, sometimes devastating images, they seem to balance with the softer things of life. Jeff Talmadge’s gifts for painting scenes with his words are immense. Songs that present some of the most complex issues we all face are handled with a philosophy that even a child could understand….If I could mine the “secrets” that allow such songs to be offered up, I would have to decline – for I would never want the vein of such a mother load of wisdom to run dry.
–Jay Mouton, The Chattanoogan, June 11, 2007