The songs of which Jeff Cramer’s Northern 45 are comprised represent a decade’s worth of work. Each track hearkens back to the singer-songwriter’s Midwestern roots. They envelop listeners in rolling Americana spanning northern Wisconsin and far beyond—through Bolivia, D.C., Maine, and Colorado—as Cramer has trekked over the last ten years. Chronicling a life of adventure, love, heartache, and hard work, Northern 45 has the makings of an honest and adventuresome blue-collar soundtrack.
Prior to the full albums release on 25 January 2019, Cramer is premiering its first track with PopMatters. Straight away, “Forgive” is a song that sounds plenty like the name on the tin, encapsulating a warm and wistful voice that pervades its overall presentation. Cramer’s easygoing grit is enough to simultaneously captivate and soothe listeners as a breath of breezy guitar tones and rollicking percussion swirl around it. All the while, a powerful message is conveyed in the ideology that Cramer establishes throughout—to forgive, but not to forget.
Cramer tells PopMatters, “Forgive was one of those songs that just came out all at once, in one sitting. I’m still not sure where the images, lines come from other than an honest and immediate expression of experiencing rawness of sudden change and memorializing love. I remember consciously writing ‘Forget not forgive’ on the paper, then singing ‘Forgive not forget.’ Perhaps this song is an example of one of those moments where the inner, wiser voice that I can hardly attribute to my conscious self comes through. I welcome that voice back anytime while songwriting if it can hear me saying this.”
“The demo I have of the song from years ago is much more emotive, set in a big open room with an open-tuned acoustic and my voice as the only two instruments. Taking it into the studio with a rock’n’roll band was a different, if cathartic experience, letting it loose, and singing the same lines with a more confident and easy approach. I’m looking forward to experimenting with the live version and seeing which version come out night by night.”