Walking the Motorway Home
You could call him the rugged individualist. Or at least, the rugged instrumentalist. He can give you a punch-in-the-stomach history lesson on the mining industry's demise in a small Idaho town, then bring you to tears singing about lost love or losing your mind in the Nevada desert. He's a sensitive, folky crooner who moonlights in boogie bands called 'The Jesse Helmsmen' and 'Skank Ho Denial.' Yes, it's hard to predict what's coming next from this mercurial musical bard. But J. Bradley is the curve ball we all need. He never met a stringed or keyed instrument he didn't want to fold into one of his tunes. This impulse could be annoying in the wrong hands, but J.'s a quick and thorough study. And if that doesn't work, he just mixes out the bum notes. His words can be gauzy metaphor or camera-eye detail. If the truth hurts, J. seems to be saying, 'let it bleed.' If you're hanging out with him for the evening you might accidentally end up on one of his records, playing or talking or boiling some pasta. He's assembled half a dozen All-Star bands of Missoula, Montana's finest to back him up, but somehow - whether it's bittersweet acoustic fare or boiling rock - the music is unmistakably his. Etched in your mind like rings on a tree trunk.