Dreams of Modern Living, Jefferson Berry’s first solo album will arrive on January 27, 2023. The Urban Acoustic Coalition bandleader has produced an album of guitar and vocals that is centered on stories, tales from “these modern times.” The themes of the good love, the bad love and these days of strange that were on display on Double Deadbolt Logic (2020) and Soon! (2021) by Jefferson Berry & the UAC are given clarity on Dreams of Modern Living. “The songs I’m writing convey stories. As much as I love how these work within the Urban Acoustic Coalition jam band thing, I wanted to create and album where the characters and message stood out.”
Berry’s newest offering has some wild characters. Urban scenes take the listener from the wet-brained street urchin in “Sand in My Shoes” to the actual and potential homeless souls in “Sleeping in Public.” The political actors in the “Ballad of Sammy Rodriguez” and “Locks and Guns” offer commentary on issues of social justice. Berry sings of adolescent angst in the Elton John / Bernie Taupin-penned “Come Down in Time.”
Berry is a published and cited historian, but after leaving inner-city teaching he decided to go head-long into his music. Following the UAC’sappearance at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in 2022, Berry went to work on two albums: Dreams of Modern Living and the upcoming Prairie Fire (a Jefferson Berry & the UAC Americana record due out in mid-2023).
“Locks and Guns” was the first single serviced to folk radio from Dreams ahead of the album’s release. A version of the song was released by the full band on the 2020 pandemic album, Double Deadbolt Logic. The folk version is supported by a music video that has been nominated for several film festival awards. It’s director Ciro Ayala previously worked on the band’s animated video of “We’ll Soon be Together” (the most played single on Soon!). While the video has received over 50,000 views on Facebook, the response by trolling vigilantes has been remarkable. “I had no idea that I was making such a hot political statement with this song,” says Berry. “It’s become a hot mix of social justice and social media.”
During the filming of “Locks and Guns” with Brian Flanagan, Jefferson thought it would be a good use of studio resources to cut another song. “Come Down in Time” wasn’t really a thought for Dreams, until Brian came up with his psychedelic video presentation of the tune, says Berry. “Most people rightly think of Elton John as a glam pop star. But in 1970, on Tumbleweed Connection, he was still thought of in the singer-songwriter class of James Taylor and Paul Simon. Folky.” Both advance singles have been well received by folk radio programmers.
Jefferson Berry will be playing select dates in support of Dreams of Modern Living including an appearance at the 2023 Folk Alliance Internationalconference in Kansas City and a mid-summer west coast tour.