Rock Paper Jesus
The title-- Rock, Paper, Jesus -- caught my eye. The opening track, 'Orion's Belt,' opened my eyes about what you can do with a song. The guy in this couple is leaving a tip on a bar counter as his girl's at home microwaving a cup of coffee. What makes this unusual is he's Jesus and she's Mary. Chicago-based singer-songwriter Mark Sheehy isn't hyping religion or bashing it. He's simply placed these icons in a modern setting and portrays them as a couple trying in a small way to hold on to a big world. Sheehy's third effort restored my faith in smart rock and roll. --Tony Peyser, Santa Monica Mirror Chicago's Mark Sheehy plays good old fashioned rock 'n' roll and he plays it damn well. Opener 'Orion's Belt' sounds just like classic era Rolling Stones and the pace doesn't really let up too much from there on in. Sheehy does have the quality to vary things a bit with songs such as 'Breakdown Lane' but he is at his best when playing hard rocking Uncle Tupelo influenced country rock, such as 'The Demise of Eric Johnson'. Best song on the album award however goes to the awesome 'Guess I was Thinking'. Full marks for the use of tuba in 'Old Maid' as well proving that this instrument is far more rocking than it's reputation would suggest. A great album!--Dan Wilkinson, americana-UK.com On Rock, Paper, Jesus, Sheehy's good-natured roots-rock is colored with melancholy. There are a few stompers where he affects a mild swagger, but Sheehy's at his best when his protagonists are most vulnerable: 'Old Maid' is a drunken lament about a barroom pickup, complete with out-of-tune honky-tonk piano and woozy tuba; 'All I Want' is a jangly pop ditty addressed to a would-be girlfriend who's on the fence ('You could be the last one I ever kiss'); and 'Turn Out the Lights' is a bitter suicide note set to a jolly Tejano rhythm.--Bob Mehr,The Chicago Reader At a time when so much Americana has become a sort of 'slow core' affair, I'm glad there are still guys out there who know how to rock. On his excellent 'Rock, Paper, Jesus,' Mark Sheehy definitely rocks. --Theo Oldenburg, Radio Wenschoten This gritty rock n' roll belongs on a jukebox in your local dive bar. Sheehy writes quality pub rock centered on booze, redemption and women. Worn topics for sure, but Sheehy has a knack for details. In his world, Jesus is just another bar fly, and a would-be adulterer watches and old lover go shoe shopping with his wife.--Todd Martens, Punk Planet Mark Sheehy has a lot to say. And he makes it worth your while to listen. Roaring out of the box full throttle into the rollicking ride that is 'Orion's Belt,' he never looks back but continues to slam out his slice-of-life musical observations in raw and powerful offerings. Tackling a variety of subjects, Sheehy masterfully matches his evocative lyrics with the perfect instrumentation. Disillusionment prevails throughout, but not in a melancholy way. 'Orion's Belt,' layered guitars reminiscent of the Stones, sets the tone with it's quixotic juxtaposition of Jesus and Mary in today's world, just warming up coffee and pie in the microwave. Poetic images like these take us through Sheehy's own processes and discoveries, and his gritty, masculine voice is the perfect guide. Actually, I find a strong masculinity ('motorcycle dreams when I'm hungover') runs through the whole CD, and it's often very appealing. 'Mama Mama,' impaling you with it's shrill whistling organ, is an angry and heart-breaking rant against the wrong lessons learned. But I don't want to over-intellectualize here, because Mark Sheehy is nothing if not rocking. These ten arrangements are electric with power, from 'Breakdown Lane,' a road-weary and wistful tune of unspecified longing, to 'Turn Out the Lights,' another accordion-laced rant against the standard answers, Sheehy always manages to excite. His biggest surprise might be 'Old Maid,' arranged with simplistic but potent perfection, utilizing tuba and tack piano. In 'I Said Yeah,' a haunting love song, the vocals surf beautifully on the strong chords, riding them effortlessly to a seamless end. Mark Sheehy sings of our survival, and like any good rocker, he refuses to lie down quietly. His refusal is our gain.--Kevan Breitinger, Indie-music.com Chicagoan Mark Sheehy's self-produced effort has the sort of grit that lovers of classic Rolling Stones material will love. Sheehy sings in an honest rock fashion, lacing this songs with urgent, spiky guitar licks and solos and bolstering the up and at 'em sound with a solid rhythm section and healthy doses of keyboards. 'Rock, Paper, Jesus' isn't all ballsy rock, however - Breakdown Lane is a wistful country lament with a nagging rhythm; I Said Yeh has a chugging beat that refuses to lie down while The Demise of Eric Johnson is the sort of danceable rocker that will get anyone on their feet within thirty seconds. 'Rock, Paper, Jesus' is honest-to-goodness, no frills stuff - it doesn't pretend to be anything else.--John Stacey, Comes with a Smile.