Download “Lucky Guy” by Roy Jay
MP3 Courtesy of Rock Ridge Music
There’s a line on “Mungo Jerry,” from Roy Jay’s new album, Lucky Guy, that sums up the life and music of this successful entrepreneur turned musician: “I’m living the life that I wanted to live/When I need a hand, folks are happy to give.” Indeed, Roy Jay is now living the life he’s wanted to live, making the music he wants to make, and sharing it with the world. Lucky Guy is the album Roy Jay waited 20 years to make, and it is his artistic vision, fully formed – heartfelt, incisive and soulful.
Jay’s music is an amalgam of his influences; a touch of Dylan, a dash of Paul Simon, a heaping of Jimmy Buffet and infused with the wide-open, American spirit of the Grateful Dead. And it is the reflection of a man who has journeyed to be where he wanted to be all along.
Growing up, Jay was a music fanatic. “I started off with Jim Croce and the Beatles. ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown’ was the first single I ever bought,” he recollects with a smile. Jay played in several bands while in college (“I was pretty good,” he says.), influenced by the seminal hard rock of bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin.
But the demands of real life intruded, and for 20 years, Roy Jay put his guitar down to become a successful entrepreneur. “For 10 years,” he says, “all I did was work.” He continues, “I never stopped loving music, and even though I was focused on work, music was always in my heart.”
Finally, Jay had enough. As he recounts, “I always saw a lot of live music. One night last year, I came home from a show and I just ordered a guitar. The desire to participate in music became overwhelming. I enrolled in the Berklee College of Music’s online program and started playing 6 days a week, which I continue to do.”
Jay soon began writing feverishly, and he was enthused enough with the results to begin to seriously consider recording. Lyricists Marsha Garcia and Jeff Zampino provided Jay with words which are striking for their sophistication, emotional power and depth.
But the project really took off when Jay encountered producer Chris Seefried, a music veteran who has worked with artists as varied as Quincy Jones and Roseanne Cash. “When I first met Chris,” Jay says, “I just wanted to record something so I could get gigs. I had no idea I was going to make what turned out to be when I sat down with him.”
At first, Jay leaned on Chris heavily. “The first five songs we recorded, Chris wrote most of the music for. But we took a break, and then we wrote a bunch of new music together like ‘California Grey.’ When we recorded those, I knew something was going on. We began using different rhythmic motifs – and at that point it became uniquely me, and it stayed that way for the rest of the recording.”
Indeed, at 8 minutes long, “California Grey” is an audacious and enveloping tale of a man taking on new adventures, creating a wide-open future. With a B-3 humming in the background, the drums loping, and the guitars weaving reassuring rhythm and lead lines, Jay sings out his story.
“Mungo Jerry” another favorite of Jay’s, has a laconic and laid back groove that is the perfect backdrop for a tale of men who escape the hurriedness of the working world to reinvent their life, so as to “take it slow.” The music is accomplished, but never forced – as the closing solo soars, it feels as natural as watching a sunset on the horizon.
Jay calls some of the songs “escapist,” but it’s a misleading characterization. What the songs are about is a return to the most authentic parts of oneself, of things that were thought to have been left behind and of finding peace in the slow lane. Whether it’s “Time’s Page” or “Lucky Guy,” Garcia and Zampino’s words, and Jay’s music, give us characters, music and images that impress by making the complex simple and effortless.
Roy Jay’s music is made for a simple reason – the love of creating it. It has been a long road to get here, but he is now firmly on it, and walking easy. “I don’t do this for money,” he says simply. “It’s just about making as much good music as possible, continually learning and growing as a musician, and following this path, wherever it leads.” On Lucky Guy, Jay takes the listener inside of the creative mind of a musician who is now on a journey that expresses the most authentic elements of his being.