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Blues Go Modern on Jason Ager’s Debut Lunchdate

Lunchdate available on iTunesOn his debut album Lunchdate, Jason Ager brings new weight to both sides of the term blues-rock.  With soulful songs about love and loss, arranged with upbeat instrumentation and allusive lyrics, Ager taps into a rich and varied American musical heritage. 

Lunchdate is full of songs that evoke the influences of blues artists like Muddy Waters as well as rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry, the latter’s name inspiring a song title on the record.  Ager fleshes out the traditional blues progressions with innovative time changes and layers of vocal harmonies that offer a full, rich sound. 

The album starts off boldly, with Ager singing plaintive a capella to his absent muse, “Jocelyn.”  Four lines in though – Bam! – the music kicks in at high tempo and Ager’s voice is now given a compelling chorus effect as razor-sharp guitar lines guide him through the rest of the song.  Ager has cultivated a highly syncopated style of singing that accentuates his self-taught guitar style, especially present on “Sing-Along Jawn.”

Personal anecdotes provide the subject matter for Ager’s lyrics, and he packs them in, mixing plenty of romantic self-deprecation with poetic similes and a bevy of pop-culture references that provide a roadmap of his musical influences.  It is this blend of personal and cultural that makes the album so accessible. 

Full-out rockers like title track “Lunchdate” offer a glimpse of the blistering live show Jason Ager and The C.O.P.O. perform in clubs like Philadelphia’s World Café Live, singing to every girl in the audience that he’s “got you up on my mind.”  Long-time musical partner Austin O’Connor lays down inventive bass lines that push the tempo, and drummer Sheri Gallagher tightens the arrangement with her snare and hi-hat work.

Ager is also an active solo performer, bringing his acoustic act to stages such as the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  On “Strawberry Wine,” a song that would sound right at home in a Nashville honky-tonk, Ager explores the textures of harmonizing with his own voice which effect transports the listener to a back porch on a summer day. 

Recorded at Hatfield, PA’s Tritonix Recording, Lunchdate is an album that bridges many genres of American music, from R&B of the ’60s to the hip-hop of Biggie Smalls.  On “Rock Star,” Ager surfs on waves of organ music and “Na na na” choruses as he sings of his early days in the business, but then breaks down the final minute of the song into a rap that spits pure truth about coming to terms with illusions of grandeur. 

The combination of such distinct musical styles elevates Lunchdate to a place that resonates with contemporary audiences who appreciate hybrid artists in possession of a reverence for music history.  Ager succeeds in producing music that achieves a type of earnest pastiche infused with deeply personal themes.  Lunchdate is an album you will listen to again and again, gleaning new pleasure from every spin. 

Lunchdate on Itunes and CD Baby.

Jason Ager on MySpace, Facebook, and  

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Reader Comments (2)

Awesome review! Can't wait to check it out.

April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

I've been listening to it a lot but couldn't have explained why as eloquently as Adam! Great job Jason, Austin, and Sherri! Thanks Adam for giving words to my feeling about the CD!

April 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRay Shay

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