ACROSS THE WATER -ST (1975 prog rock rarity)Remastered, Gatefold- LP
Jay Ayers’ self-titled album from 1980 opens with 'Midnight Lady,' three minutes of yacht rock perfection. High-pitched doo-doos and la-la-las hover overhead as the supple rhythm section lays a rock-solid foundation and Ayers yearns desperately for love, even if it’s from a pro. Prominent acoustic guitars give the song rhythmic propulsion like some of the best country-rock hits of the era, and an unexpected clarinet appears midway through to sweeten the mix. 'Easy Way Out' connects, delicately addressing depression with an appropriately melancholy backing and topped with a memorable vocal hook from Ayers in the way he sings the song’s title.
The mood suddenly changes on side B, opening with a lively mashup of 'Different Drum' and 'Mr. Tambourine Man.' The guitars are jangly and the sound is more primitive. When he sings, Ayers sounds like a filthy drunkard wailing for quarters on a busy street corner. Instead of shortening the songs and butting them together to create a traditional medley, the tunes are carefully interwoven together, and the seams never show. The more reckless sound on side B shows more personality than the first half. The cover of 'American Girl’ perhaps doesn’t contain the conviction of the original, but the Petty-influenced 'It’s So Hard' is an engaging power-popper with some nifty vocal interplay. I wonder if the mix of the slithery 'One More Night' was intentional. The distant instruments and echo-heavy vocal create a smoky haze, enhancing the lyrics about foolishly holding on to someone."