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Americana from Pittsburgh, PA

Transplant [ep], from Justin Andrew

by Rob Reviewer

The hand-printed CD package here from Justin Andrew indicates a true craftsman’s diligent attention to detail, and this is a trait which comes up again and again in his music. Justin Andrew is a craftsman’s musician.

Transplant is a folksy message from the soil of small-town and back road urban America, towns like the city of Pittsburgh where Justin currently resides, but with sights set on other places either past or present. It speaks to the interconnectedness we share as a global community via shared event memories or internet posts.

After hearing the 7-song EP I asked Justin Andrew if he used to listen to much Don Maclean during his formative years. Justin said he listened to one of his albums so much that he “broke the 8-track.”

This was said without any sense of irony as well. Although it was said in a chatroom usually I’m pretty good at reading sarcasm and so I’m fairly confident that he wasn’t being smarmy or sarcastic when he said he devoured an 8 track of the singer whose single was number one on the pop charts for several weeks in 1971.

“Don Maclean was gradeschool for me. It was my dad’s. Also that’s how I first heard Tommy, America and Kansas’ Carry On My Wayward Son and was blown away, haha.

“I’d say if I have any style it’s something that just happens. The songs I write tend to kind of just get pulled out of me somehow and they sound like they do. My songs have always evolved as I think most songwriters’ songs do. I’m sure they’ll evolve more. It’s definitely not a deliberate choice though.”

~ How do you feel about the songwriting of artists like Woodie Guthrie? Do you identify with any of the social commentary in traditional folk music?

“I tend to stay away from politics and other external subjects. I love Guthrie’s songs, it’s hard not to… but it’s not really my thing to write about. Besides it’s hard to sing in a whisper about injustice.

~Tell me about the Co-Op type place that you used make the individual hand-printed CD covers and everything for Transplant.

“AIR (artist image resource) is a non-profit print shop here in Pittsburgh that has several types of printmaking supplies/studio from silk screening to letter pressing and more. You can rent studio time and use their presses and screens and all the equipment you need to do whatever kind of printmaking you are into. It’s pretty amazing, I’ve never been in a city that has anything like it.

“The letterpress machine I used to print the cd covers is this giant beautiful machine with a big iron wheel you turn to keep the press moving. It’s really physical and a really satisfying medium.”

It’s this fulfilling attention to detail which comes up throughout his music. Justin’s satisfaction with his work is evident here in Transplant and should satiate the listener who is looking for a genuine style of modern folk-Americana.

~RR

myspace.com/justinandrewmusic

[There were some images of the hand-printed CD package for Transplant, each one numbered by Justin, containing lyric sheet insert, here. But it looks like they were misplaced in a hosting account transfer. :(]

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