Prior to this recording, pretty much the only acoustic fifteen / Jeff Ott track I listened to was the acoustic version of “Welcome to Berkeley”, which has been reproduced to a t on this double-disc CD. While I was a big fan of “Welcome to Berkeley”, I was a little weary at some of the beginning tracks that are found on the first CD of this set, specifically the title track, and “Jarred & Jessica”, which were purely acoustic tracks that really didn’t have anything in the way of the harsh energy that “Welcome” had. What might be something to put off potential buyers of this disc is the originality of Jeff’s voice – while ey was in Crimpshrine and Fifteen, ey had an entire band to compliment eir’s vocals. On this outing, however, Jeff is with acoustic – and that’s it. The level of political involvement is about the same for Jeff as during eir’s Fifteen days ,and yet we notice even more in the way of personal, deeply introspective tracks in this set. The birth of Jeff’s child has not changed the viewpoints espoused by Jeff eirself, but in actuality, have made these points more sharp due to newfound responsibility.
In fact, the only other instrument to take prominence during the disc is the piano, replacing the acoustic guitar, during the very hopeful and powerful “The End”, recalling the early days of Billy Joel and Elton John, while still having the California twang individuals know eir for. Covering practically every topic that is important to politics at this period, whether it be about the misdirected movements looking for Saddam in Afghanistan ( $1.78), the ignoring of homosexual rape by the punk community (Jux), and the matter of having clean needles (My Congressman), Jeff has lived through these problems, and spends every waking moment trying to fix them. These songs are never delivered in anything but Jeff’s trademark emotionally-wavering voice, and each song has a feeling to it that an individual just knows that Jeff practices what ey sings.
Don’t get me wrong. The falsetto voice of Jeff can at times grate on an individual’s ears, and some of the chord progressions and repetitions during the songs do tend to get tiring. However, these little rays of light that shine on Jeff’s imperfections really just tie together more individuals to eir’s message. Other individuals in the punk scene might have attempted the lower-energy or acoustic efforts to spread a political message (Against Me! and Justin Sane being two examples), but Jeff here is the only individual who actually shucks everything but a guitar to produce eir’s music.
Rating : 8.1/10
Top Tracks : Caffiend, Jux
Jeff Ott – Will Work For Diapers / 28 Tracks / 2003 Sub City Records / http://www.subcity.net / http://www.pleaforpeace.com / Reviewed 29 December 2003