Jett’s Creek
Jett’s Creek

With one celebrated album to its name (2008’s Supposed To Be), the Lebanon, Ohio-based family band known as Jett’s Creek is unlikely to surprise anyone with Guilty. To put a fine point on it, let’s say there’s unlikely a soul so dead as to be unimpressed or unmoved by the authority, the conviction and/or the unceasing displays of impeccable musicianship and emotionally compelling singing suffusing Guilty. The song’s the thing, and on this outing dad Jon McIntosh, and his son and daughter—Adam McIntosh and Angie Young, respectively—all contribute strong original numbers (Young’s poignant “One Small Problem,” being the confession of a married woman who resists temptation’s lure into the arms of another, is a lilting beauty, as aching as it is tenderly rendered in Young’s plaintive voice), and the tunestack is further fleshed out by reliable storytellers-in-song such as Leroy Drumm and Pete Goble; Mike Evans and Mark “Brink” Brinkman; and the estimable Harley Allan, whose sprightly “Suzanne,” a fond reminiscence of a just-out-of-reach woman, benefits both from Adam’s expressive light tenor vocal, some soothing family harmony on the bright, sing-song choruses, and lively instrumental decoration by guest mandolinist Rob Baker and Adam’s own voluble banjo conversation. One of the album’s many captivating tales is Larry Gatlin’s “Denver,” about an attempted romantic reconciliation that comes a cropper in the Mile High City. Sprinting along at an energetic pace, the arrangement provides ample room for more banjo and mandolin solo showcases of a fleet-fingered nature, but gains immeasurable force via Jon’s heartfelt vocal, which walks a fine line between being hopeful and despairing, so much so it demands close attention be paid in order for the pain at its root to be fully revealed—an expert demonstration of laughing through the tears. Another surprising choice, perhaps, for a bluegrass band, is Miranda Lambert’s seething “Gun Power And Lead.” Angie, otherwise so demure and vulnerable, here takes a cue from Lambert’s steely persona and gets rough and tumble in summoning the gathering fury of an abused woman awaiting—with a shotgun—the arrival back from jail of the man who wreaked such physical and emotional havoc on her, before she found new resolve in “gunpowder and lead.” One suspects the message got through. Retribution rears its head again in the Evans-Brinkman gem, “This Old Hammer,” a traditional, soaring bluegrass workout centered on the confessions of a man about to go to jail for life, punctuated by tasty instrumental solos between Adam’s deeply felt lead vocal and the close harmonized choruses. Dad Jon isn’t here simply taking up space—his tenor is a tad grittier than Adam’s and no less personable, especially when he digs into the blues-inflected barnburner that kicks off the album on a rousing note, “Baby You Ain’t Baby,” from the sturdy pen of Jerry Salley. From its dark cover photo of a hand hanging forlorn between the openings of dilapidated prison bars, to the music inside on the CD, to the back cover shot of a gun’s smoking barrel, nothing but wonderful happens on Guilty, as accomplished and compelling a traditional bluegrass album as any that’s come down the pike this year, as executed by a band clearly destined for bigger things—much bigger things.—David McGee

Guilty by Jett’s Creek is available at

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024