12 PAUL THORN "Too Blessed To Be Stressed" (Perpetual Obscurity)
13 MARK JUNGERS "I'll See You Again" (American Rural)
14 NICK WATERHOUSE "Holly" (Innovative Leisure)
Jungers has unassumingly built up a mighty catalog of original work since his still-stunning 2000 solo debut, Black Limousine.
He's working a niche within a niche, to be sure - folks who dig Robert Earl Keen and John Prine but want a deeper peek into literate, soulful modern folk would do well to start with Jungers - and seems to acknowledge it with his approach by shrinking things down to a spare-room studio vibe.
It served him well on 2011's appealingly swampy More Like a Good Dog Than a Bad Cat, and it strikes the right tone again on this relatively autumnal, even-more-Iaconic-than-usual set of songs. Thematically, "I'll See You Again" plays out like a veritable concept album, with the jilted lover of "I'll Be Home" forsaking said house ("Don't Want to Live Here Anymore"), ruminating over reconciliation ("Do You Still Care") and the heartaches of history both local ("Johnson's Farm") and personal ("Plywood & Strings") before giving in to a sort of stoic, resilient loneliness (the closing "Ran Out of Tears," perhaps the record's finest moment).
And though Jungers' drawl might be more Fargo than Fort Worth, it hits home just as surely as his better-known peers.
MIKE ETHAN MESSICK
Keeping up with Texas singer-songwriters is a full time job in itself, as fast as one fails, in FARster Calvin Powers' words, "the authenticity sniff test," two or three more take his or her place.
Even though I knew good people like David Obermann and Jim Beal Jr admired Jungers, he somehow never came up on my radar, even after 20 years as a songwriter, putting out seven albums. For this I apologize to him and you, because I really should not have been so remiss.
One reason, I won't say excuse, is that, based in Martindale, TX, Jungers mostly plays Hill Country venues with his long time band, The Whistlin' Mules, who back him here, along with Gurf Morlix pedal steel and baritone guitar, Gabe Rhodes accordion, all-purpose Canadian fiddler Jessica Hana Deutsch and Ben Balmer harmonica and vocals.
Even leaving the songs aside, the arrangements alone have a deeply satisfying organic feel, add in world weary vocals and gritty backcountry songs that cover betrayal, disillusionment, doings way too far back in the boonies for comfort, regrets, letting go, hocking mother's silverware to buy a cheap guitar, working and getting nowhere, well, let's just say that aren't too many unicorns and butterflies in Jungers' songs.
The opening I'll Be Home made me think of Lipstick, Lies & Gasoline era Fred Eaglesmith, but, with a rhythmic blend of country, folk and rock, Jungers easily passes Calvin's authenticity sniff test. JC
JC, Third Coast Music Network, 2014-08-02
Mark Jungers' songs are full of finely developed characters, whose beautiful desperation shine through the authenticity of Jungers' voice. Texan, via Minnesota, Jungers has honed his rock tinged country songs for the last 20 or so years. His latest effort, I'll See You Again, has the sound of the mid nineties Fred Eaglesmith albums with a little Wildflowers era Tom Petty thrown in for good measure.
The album was recorded with some familiar faces to Jungers. His longtime backing band the Whistlin' Mules which features Adrian Schoolar on guitar and dobro, Wes Green on mandolin and Josh Flowers on bass have been recording and playing with Mark for years now. The comfort Jungers feels with these guys allows him to focus on writing great lyrics that he knows will translate well to recording and stage as Whistlin' Mules songs. In addition to his normal band, Mark enlisted the services of renown producer, and string player Gurf Morlix to add some pedal steel and baritone guitar on a few tracks as well as a few other guests to fill in the gaps of the tracks when needed.
One of my favorites from the record is "I Don't Want to Live There", a tale of a broken-hearted man who wants nothing to do with the home town where is former lover stays. Another shining moment of the album, is "Plywood and Strings" where the protagonist justifies pawning his dead mother's silver to buy a cheap guitar, stating that at least he wasn't buying smack like so many others who steal from loved ones.
In the end, I'll See You Again emerges as yet another fine record filled with engaging stories, presented with the tightness we've all come to expect from Mark Jungers and the Whistlin' Mules. Albums like this are a testament to the fact that more folks should be aware of Jungers' work and hopefully it will find its way to new ears across the country. I'm not sure when the official release date on this one is, but make sure you keep your eye out for it by visiting Mark's website: www.MarkJungers.com
In life and in art, Mark Jungers is a reality dealer. A trailblazing Americana singer, songwriter and musician with By God sod busting roots, Jungers lays out the perils, the pitfalls and the pleasures of life in equal measure. And, accompanied by a like-minded music-making crew, Jungers uses a mixture of country, folk, rock and more to get that reality across with soul, conviction and a solid backbeat.
Jim Beal Jr., freelance music journalist/KSYM Third Coast Music Network DJ
CONSISTENTLY SATISFYING, close-to-the-earth singer songwriter who plows reality with a finely honed sense of irony. He shares a somewhat existential rural outlook filled with hardships to overcome or not, conjuring cattle rustling, snowstorms, gambling everything on a single chance, and, yes, even a bit of man-woman love.
Mark Jungers "More Like A Good Dog Than A Bad Cat" If Jungers was ever writing for the masses, he's probably said to hell with it by now. His budget's relatively tight, his approach is stripped-down and his Midwestern twang hasn't lost any of its bite after over a decade and a half in the Texas Hill Country. He's also one of the best roots-music songwriters in the world, and on this self-produced, largely-unheard gem he finds a sweet spot between swamp rock and farm-to-market folk for his new crop of lyrical inventions.
Released in 2011, More Like a Good Dog Than a Bad Cat is the sixth CD from Mark Jungers since the fabled Year 2000. That whole Y2K thing seemed to barrel in on us with a sense of trepidation, particularly as the computer geeks told us the world was gonna end. Now in 2012 it's the Maya who are calling out from their graves, warning us of either impending doom or an ancient alien invasion, depending on which History Channel show you watch when you're bored. Those prophetic declarations of cataclysm serve as interesting bookends for Jungers' career thus far; his music has historically mined many a vein of solemn, destructive, at times eviscerating fool's gold. This record follows suit, chock full of tales of doubt and loss and the sometimes brutal death of love. Take these lines from "Wasn't Thinking:"
When I finally woke up in the middle of my dream|
I was thinking 'bout the way that some people scream
In the middle of the night when you're holding them tight
And you can't figure out what's wrong or what's right
What was I thinking
I wasn't thinking too much
And I finally wasn't thinking of you
Ouch. But another Jungers trademark is the ability to maintain some level of bubbling (if at times misplaced) optimism in the face of Fate's wrath. As an example, the lyrics above are delivered in a flowing, funky, rolling melody with a driving backbeat reminiscent of the most saccharine and friendly of '50s doo-wop. It's a weird combination of substance and sound, but somehow it works, makes you think it's all gonna be alright anyway. So light up and enjoy the ride.
Mark's an interesting songwriter as a result of his ability to seamlessly incorporate all of the above. His music in many instances seems rooted in familiar sounds, and his lyrics often cover well-trod ground. "Riverdown," for instance, is close both lyrically and stylistically to Springsteen's chestnut "The River." Both songs center a challenging lifecycle around a river's healing power, although Bruce's protagonist struggles with choices he made himself while Jungers' attempts to face a life built in the void of a father who left. But in the end, the resonant sax of the late Clarence Clemons notwithstanding, the Boss's song is fatalistic and teetering on the edge of defeatist. Jungers takes a different tack, however. In the early verses, there's a need to run from the darkness and just drive until the fuel runs out. Later on, after some hard-won maturity sets in and some tough accountabilities are owned up to, there's this:
Everything that seemed so important back then|
Is lost like it never meant a thing
But sometimes late at night when I get to hold you tight
I remember running out of gasoline
If it's true that there ain't no future living in the past, it's also true that there's no smart future without a bone-deep understanding of what we screwed up along the way. The trick is to find a place where we can be honest with ourselves about the past and the screwups, the all-star fuckups, without beating our souls to death with a stick carved from the cold, dark heart of guilt. Jungers throughout his career seems to recognize this truth, and with this latest record reminds us once again that yes, sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it sucks because we're dumb and made it suck, and sometimes it's just the way it is. But there's still a reason to hope, and there are still the wonderful seemingly small but ultimately timeless things to treasure. "Daisy," a song about a loved and now lost dog, makes that case superbly.
We buried her last fall 'neath the shade tree in the back|
I talk to her from time to time she never hollers back
Yeah she's just a dog no one knows it more than me
But she thought I was the hero that I always want to be
Lyrics like those are a key part of Jungers' longstanding and growing reputation as a songwriter possessed of skill, nuance, and passion. There's a reason people like Adam Carroll, Owen Temple, and Susan Gibson often collaborate with Mark.
You can find all the lyrics for More Like a Good Dog Than a Bad Cat at www.markjungers.com, along with plenty of other good information.
May 1st, 2012 ~ Dave Pilot, Outlaw Magazine
It has been said that Mark Jungers & the Whistling Mules play real Texas music, and not that brand of slick Texas music passed off by so many posers. Although he was born and raised in Minnesota, Jungers made his way to Austin, Texas, in the mid-1980s and was soon immersed in that city's burgeoning music scene. After a sojourn to Connecticut, Jungers returned to central Texas in the late '90s where he concentrated on refining his version of Texas Americana music, writing about the American spirit and playing like the devil. Jungers comes to White Water Tavern for a night of music with Little Rock's own The Libras kicking off the night with their bar rock.
S Stewart, Sync Weekly, July 13th 2011
Just a few months into 2011, and it has already been a bountiful music year. Mark Junger's new release More Like a Good Dog Than a Bad Cat just might sit at the top of this list so far.
If you are not yet familiar with Mark Jungers = where the hell have you been? As stated on his own web site www.markjungers.com:
Mark Jungers is no stranger to the Americana roots music scene. He's been playing it for years- since well before the term "Americana" was coined- because in his world, country, roots rock, folk, and bluegrass music need not be mutually exclusive. Mark and his band play what is the heart of Americana: gutsy, unpretentious music filled with spirit and spontaneity.
This free-wheeling spirit and spontaneity are certainly on display in his new CD. The 13 songs here get you involved by sucking you into the energetic flow…leaving you tapping your toes and singing loudly before you are even aware what is going on.
The opening song, Show Me a Sign, fringes on southern gospel and immediately gets you off your feet and moving. The full set of instrumentals are amazing, with Adrian Scholar opening on guitar, Wes Green playing a mesmerizing mandolin which carries the energy, Josh Flowers on bass, and Matthew Briggs capturing the beat on drums. Junger's mouth bow adds another essential quality to this one.
Jungers provides most of the writing here as well, showcasing his broad talents. He did get some writing help on 3 songs from a couple of other Texas artists you should check out …Owen Temple and Adam Carroll. Temple helps with the writing on Can't Take It With You, while Carroll assists on the final two cuts…It's All You and the tongue in cheek Swinging In The Wind. The lone cover song is the smooth old rocker Heel To Toe, written by Phil Stevens. This one reminds me of a classic Buddy Holly/Chuck Berry tune, with the similar smooth 50's vibe.
Susan Gibson, another established Texas musician who wrote the hit Wide Open Spaces plus has a new release of her own out recently titled Tightrope, also contributes here with harmony and vocals on Riverdown and Tired of Being Lonely, in which Adam Carroll makes a vocal appearance as well.
The highlights here are numerous, as each song takes on a life of its own. It is truly not often you can say there are not 1 or 2 songs that are fillers. Each song is vibrant and captivating…flowing seamlessly throughout the record.
John Walker, Americana Roots
It's the Superbowl of songwriters with the extraordinary Mark Jungers at QB. He is joined by Brock Zeman, Mike Ethan Messick and Jordan Minor tonight at the Cheatham Street Warehouse. Hearts will be broken, blues will be painted and the vibes from the music will repair the soul.
The Texas highways are littered with the discarded Texan songwriters who failed the authenticity sniff test. But veteran singer Mark Jungers has survived, writing songs that fit the here and now of rural Texas without sounding cheap or pandering. My focus tracks are "Show Me A Sign," "Wasn't Thinking," "50 Head", and "Drive."
Mark Jungers - Riverdown (More Like A Good Dog Than A Bad Cat)- Jungers is a songwriter of often astonishing depth and focus, so maybe it's odd that the one that sticks with me the most off of the new album is one of its most cheery, upbeat, sing-songy numbers. The whole album's terrific, but charmers like this one hold the heavier stuff together (there's a metaphor for life there somewhere...)
If Americana, the term they use these days for what we used to call folk music, ever suitedthe music it describes, it's in Black Limousine, the new release from Mark Jungers. I guess the term I want to use is "authentic," but it's so overused that it sounds phony. Go figure. But this music is real all the way to its American bones. Fine songs speak to our legends and our pain. The American dream comes home to roost. The songs run straight and true to the heart of rural America. Its fine songwriting that never falters. Mark tells his stories in a delivery totally without pretense and you just have to believe what he says.
Hill Country Sun
This is real, honest to God Texas music. The swill that shallow, banal, drink-beer-till-you-puke posers call Texas Music is not the same thing at all. He knows what he is writing about. You can hear the similar musical roots between these tunes and that country-pop goop, but where they are a caricature at best, this has the energy without being frantic, this is a respectful derivation and not a warped mirrior. This cd should be included in songwriting 101. I never been quick to compare one artist with another, but cannot stop myself this time... think Slaid Cleaves with an edge, or Steve Earle acoustic.
Mark Jungers' new album, More Like a Good Dog Than a Bad Cat, is unadulterated Americana. A rootsy collection of tracks about a dead dog, coming of age, and love, Jungers went without digitally editing the record giving it a natural, free-flowing feel.
Showcasing Jungers' songwriting talents, More Like a Good Dog has Jungers writing or co-writing all but one song on the disc, the vintage, bluesy rocker "Heel to Toe," which was written by Phil Stevens. He also receives help from superior songwriters Owen Temple on "Can't Take it With You" and Adam Carroll on "It's All You" and "Swinging in the Wind." Another well known Texan, Susan Gibson, who wrote the hit "Wide Open Spaces" lends her vocals on "Riverdown" and "Tired of Being Lonely," which Carroll also makes a vocal contribution. Opening with an infectious gospel inspired "Show Me a Sign," moving into the twangy "Riverdown," and ending with the witty "Swinging in the Wind,"
More Like a Good Dog Than a Bad Cat is a seamless album from front to back.
April Wolfe, Common Folk Music blog
It's a really damn good record.
Richard Skanse, editor, Texas Music Magazine
One of the best collections of original songs ever laid down on one record. And I don't mean just by an indie artist or just by a Texas artist or anything .... this stacks up just fine against Dylan, Kristofferson, Springsteen, you name it. Not that it sounds anything like those guys, this splits the difference between old-timey grit and modern warmth and polish as well as anything in recent memory. All of Jungers' albums are excellent but this one, in my opinion, is simultaneously the most diverse and consistent.
Mike Ethan Messick
...But just this once (well ok, maybe some other time too, but I've got no plans) I'm going to gladly break my own rule and give a salute to what I really consider to be "Five-Star Albums". Records that never let up, beginning to end, and take the listener that one step further by changing up your whole sense of place and purpose for a half hour or more. Records that brim with soul and personality, never take a false step (at least not without giving you nine or so perfect ones to surround it with mitigating context) and that explore the possibilities of the music itself as well as the artist making it.
Like I said, I don't dig handing out grades. Don't think I'm qualified and even if I was I'd take no pleasure in it. But I don't mind bringing out the honor roll in hopes of sharing my idea of what makes a perfect Texas album. No greatest hits in the mix (would hardly be fair) but there are a few live albums because this scene wouldn't be the same without them.
1. Guy Clark - Old No. 1|
2. Willie Nelson - Red-Headed Stranger
3. Jon Dee Graham - The Great Battle
4. Robert Earl Keen - No Kinda Dancer
5. Shaver - Unshaven: Live At Smith's Olde Bar
6. Randy Rogers Band - Rollercoaster
7. Kelly Willis - What I Deserve
8. Steve Earle - Copperhead Road
9. Mark Jungers - Black Limousine
10. Townes Van Zandt - Rearview Mirror
11. Reckless Kelly - Under The Table & Dreaming
12. Alejandro Escovedo - Gravity
13. Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward - The Lonesome Dirge
14. Adam Carroll - Lookin' Out The Screen Door
15. Joe Ely - Honky Tonk Masquerade
16. Robyn Ludwick - Out Of These Blues
17. Hayes Carll - KMAG YOYO (and Other American Stories)
18. The Gourds - Cow, Fish, Fowl or Pig
19. Ray Wylie Hubbard - Live At Cibolo Creek
20. Radney Foster - See What You Want To See
A San Marcos favorite, Mark Jungers, starts out the weekend's music at 6 p.m. tonight at Triple Crown (206 North Edward Gary Street). Jungers started out life as a farm boy who helped carry on the family farm after the early death of his father. There's a lot of no-nonsense grit in Jungers that seems to stem from his early life and colors his music with a rich Americana paintbrush.
HAP MANSFIELD San Marcos MErcury, June 25, 2010<
I knew when I saw the title of Mark Jungers' new CD I was gonna like it. More Like A Good Dog Than A Bad Cat didn't disappoint, filled with gritty blues rock with some spine. This one's been at the top of my personal play list all week.
Calvin, Tap Root Radio #262, April 18, 2011
About the closest today's crop of country and roots-music songwriters get to cattle and cornstalks are burgers and bags of tortilla chips. Thank goodness, then, for Minnesota farm-bred/Martindale-based Mark Jungers.
While he still knows something about busting sod, Jungers is a first-class songwriter and storyteller; an Americana pioneer who worked with the band Hell's Cafe before the Americana genre had a name and a record chart.
Songs about bovine/human disaster (50 Head) and grandfatherly advice (Swinging in the Wind) come naturally to Jungers. But so do songs about faith, shaken and otherwise (Show Me a Sign), heartache (Wasn't Thinking), love (Leaving With a Friend) and a good dog (Daisy).
Working with a road-tested band and guests including songwriters Susan Gibson and Adam Carroll, Jungers crafts music that fits; music that can rock and twang; music that adds punch and dynamics; music that's as organic, honest and homegrown as the words.
Jungers makes lyrics and music for town and country.
Jim Beal Jr, My San Antonio
Well, there's not a wasted track on this disc. I'll be having fun with this on Folkways for months to come.
David Obermann, KUT, Austin, TX
Standing In Your Way is an engaging mix of high-energy country with bluegrass influences.Mark Jungers combines the spiritual voice of the black-land farmer with a weary, hillbilly mindset to create a distinct take on modern American populism. The writing, which sometimes plays off traditional rural themes and phrases, is strong. Jungers distinct vocals are convincing, and the music is solid all the way through!!!
Whistle This is a new release of rather old live recordings ᾢ from 2006 at Gruene Hall and 2001 at Cheatham Street Warehouse. Make no mistake, though: This is the good stuff! Jungers and his Whistling Mules sound great singing and playing many of their best songs, like "Conviction," "We Talk," "It Ain't Funny," and their better-than-the-original cover of Jason Ringenberg's "Price of Progress." Wes Green's mandolin is always a pleasure, Adrian Schoolar's lead guitar is a skillful, Josh Flowers's bass is clean and on time. I really dig that Jungers plays without a drummer ᾢ the sound is full enough. The tracks from 2001 are interesting, because you can detect the relative youth in Jungers's voice, however many beers and cigarettes ago. Plus, it's nice to hear Dave Ray playing bass on those older tracks, but then, maybe I'm just a "Sentimental Guy.
Steve Circeo, Texas Music Times
Mark Jungers writes and sings about the type of human condition that is the true reason this country is able to stay on the course of greatness. He's got grease on his hands and dirt and blood on his shirt. He connects. And that is what music is supposed to do. If you have listeners that actually have to work for a living, One for the Crow is for them. Grab a shovel and dig. Mark does.
Mattson Rainer, KNBT Radio, New Braunfels, TX
Imagine Neil Young with a sense of humor or Jay Farrar on anti-depressants...welcome to the world of Mark Jungers, my favorite songwriter.
Jeremy Halliburton, KTXN, Victoria, TX