Creatures – art by Matthew Allison
Jeremy: This song is a sweet, mid-tempo swinger, with a dark side. The tone of the music definitely belies the lyrics, but artist Matthew Allison certainly picked up on it. His imagery is simultaneously faithful to the lyrics, while drifting into the fantastically frightening. Our protagonist is overzealous in his quest for self-advancement, does something foolish, and is haunted by creatures. He returns to the scene of his undoing, late in his life, and makes amends. His debt finally paid, he can rest in peace.
We’re Alright – art by Alexis Ziritt
Steve: This is another blues laden number with a cool riff and a positive message. On this one, Tamisha Waden joins Hage to give the song a soulful edge with some backing vocals, harmony and a breakdown solo. Her spot on this one raises this offering to the next level. The art in the book begins with an amazing pinup by Roberto De La Torre. Fans of his might recognize him from his Marvel work on Daredevil or Age of Apocalypse. He renders Jack in the desert playing guitar, chomping on a cigar. The story itself is by Alexis Ziritt and features Jack delivering records to someone in a bar in exchange for a guitar. He rides in on a giant bug which brings to fruition the importance of all of us in these trying times.
Let’s Be Real – art by Aaron Conley and Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Jeremy: Driven by acoustic guitar and a solid beat, “Real” really shines in the layered instrumentation. Artist, Aaron Conley puts our hero, Jack, through the ringer! In a “Murphy’s Law” series of events, we see a stolen girlfriend, a fall, ridicule, awkwardness, being chased by a dog, a scare, a broken table…and the realization that sometimes, you just have a bad day. “Let’s be real, life ain’t kind.” All you can do is keep living it. Like George sings, “If we mess up, we can give it another try.”
Paint the Sky – art by Tommy Lee Edwards
Steve: This is my favorite song and collaboration on the album. The song is poetry at its core with mystical lyrics and soft steel guitar notes. The story is short and sweet. It “paints” the picture for us and leaves us with an image of Jack sitting atop a tree with a shooting star in the sky. It’s the wonder that the song evokes. I love the line, “The Sky tells us who we are.” I’m sure I’m not the only one hearing James Earl Jones’ voice telling young Simba about those who came before. Like Don’t Count Me Out, it shows a connection between all beings. Beautiful song and message.