Jason P. Woodbury is the voice behind JPW, the self-titled acronym representing the Arizona songwriter’s latest output. The nine-track LP slides in just shy of a 40-minute runtime, featuring a penchant for the psychedelic and mystical that scratches a different itch than the crunching guitars of his rock outfit, Kitimoto. Both are evocative of the desert Woodbury has come up in, but where Kitimoto rides a blazing, guitar-driven wave, JPW wanders on a more incongruous, mystified string. “Halfway to Eloy” saunters between influences like Bruce Springsteen and Todd Rundgren, the artist notes.
“In a lot of weird ways, I don’t quite know what ‘Halfway to Eloy’ is about myself,” says Woodbury. “I want to evoke this out-there ‘State Trooper’ vibe where you don’t get a full view of what you’re digesting, but you get it from a certain point of view. There’s mystery. I like the idea of this song being viewed from this weird lens.”
The single came to be with the help of an ace crew, including producer Michael Krassner (Boxhead Ensemble) and longtime collaborators Zach Toporek and Zane Gillum. Where “Halfway to Eloy” veers into a breakbeat-esque, funky aesthetic in its second half, JPW credits Gillum for helping to shift its pace. “Zach brings so much new to me. It was a pivotal point in the making of the record, realizing that this thing could be mystical and a little funny.”
Regarding his collaboration with Krassner, Woodbury states, “Krass is one of those dudes who quietly and unassumingly elevates everything he partakes in. He took these recordings that were scattered and done in all of these various places and wove it into this gorgeous, cohesive thing. Having someone of his caliber on this record is still mind-blowing to me. It freaks me out.”
JPW’s debut album, Something Happening / Always Happening, is set to release on Fort Lowell on 9 September. “Halfway to Eloy” drops on 22 July, finding itself somewhere between cosmic country and psychedelic soft rock. The project nods to the natural Arizona vistas that Woodbury grew up with.
Recognizing this connection, JPW says, “It’s hard for me to put a finger on it, but I’m from Arizona and grew up in Arizona. This is where I’m from. A lot of these songs were inspired by time outside and time spent in the Arizona wilderness. I grew up in Coolidge. There’s an evocation of the desert that I’m drawn to; long before my family was in Coolidge, Lee Hazelwood, Duane Eddy, and Waylon Jennings were on a radio station over there. “
“I love where I live. I didn’t mean for the JPW music for it to be evocative of that, but it sort of tumbled out of my brain and became that way. It also tumbled out of the brains of my collaborators, like Michael Krassner, who told me that it reminded him of the Verde River in the 1970s.”