Little Richard. Buddy Holly. Bill Haley and His Comets. If this was the 1950s, JD McPherson would fit right into that stellar list of musicians. But's 2015, and McPherson not only faces the challenge of creating his own identity but also setting himself apart in the modern age as being something other than a retro-rock act.
I'm sure if you ask him, McPherson isn't "trying" to sound like that era of music. He's instead focused on making a simple brand of rock 'n' roll that relies as much on rhythms as it does on its genuine sound. There's a reason McPherson headed to an analog studio for that old-school feel and avoids the polished edges of digital recordings.
Merging elements of rock, rockabilly and the blues, McPherson's sophomore effort, Let the Good Times Roll, is as catchy and captivating as his debut, Signs and Signifiers. Good Times Roll showcases as much of his rockin' and rollin' good-time side ("Mother of Lies" and the title track) as it does his vocal abilities (see the slow burning "Bridgebuilder").
The fretwork of bassist Jimmy Sutton (Wanda Jackson, Pinetop Perkins) comes through on many of the songs, but it's the background piano work of Raynier Jacob Jacildo that typically helps set the music apart from the familiar. Staccato chords chime in at the right times — as does the occasional saxophone work by Doug Corcoran — as the piano helps define the borders of his classic style.
His sophomore album could have been a rehashing of the old, but McPherson avoids the slump with 11 tracks showing his diversity as a songwriter and musician. Catch McPherson's Charlotte return on Feb. 22 at the Visulite Theatre.