Jeff Dillon = Expo 86-era Wolf Parade + The Gaslight Anthem + Mike Ness
For Heidi is a postcard made into music, capturing the soul of aimlessly wandering through the West, train hopping, getting into trouble and falling in love. Jeff Dillon has a knack for creating songs with a simple yet memorable structure, highlighting the lyricism about his experiences while creating catchy hooks for each piece. The sentiment of Dillon’s music is similar to Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains in that it feels like a train hopper’s travel journal set to music, yet Dillon’s music feels somewhat removed from the experience. It feels as though Dillon is looking back on his days of stealing whiskey, gambling and being a train-hopping musician with nostalgia and the will to return. It’s a perspective on being an anarcho punk without the gritty, raw sound of anarcho punk. There is something very folksy/Americana to Dillon’s sound, and the straightforward rock tempos paired with Dillon’s clean vocals emphasize his autobiographical lyrics.
“I Lost My Heart to Albuquerque” captures the essence of Dillon’s songwriting and is very honest about what he has done while also staying lighthearted. It’s essentially a love song dedicated to wanderlust and Albuquerque in particular, though Albuquerque seems to represent a person as well. “Poets (feat. Frank Turner)” is the catchiest tune on the album, and lyrically feels like a reprise of “I Lost My Heart to Albuquerque,” though “Poets” focuses more on the positive aspects of his experience as a train-hopping traveler while also recalling the shared experience to a fellow traveler.
I personally think the storytelling element of Dillon’s songwriting is particularly strong, and it drew me into the story of his travels without sounding preachy or overly sentimental. There is something frank and honest about Dillon’s story that makes it all the more believable and immersive, and the music accompanying the story matches this style with an effortless rock n’ roll feel. –Ali Shimkus