Got Dressed Up To Be Let Down
You wouldn’t expect radically progressive views in most honky-tonks, but St. Louis Americana artist Jack Grelle and his new record, Got Dressed Up To Be Let Down, have done just that. Grelle’s subversive songwriting tactics, like discussing the pitfalls of traditional masculinity within a classic country love song, owe to the person Jack Grelle is: resilient. In its most basic form resiliency is surviving, but as we evolve resiliency becomes about progress. It becomes a way to enact change, to form communities and to build bridges. Through his time in the DIY punk scene, living that ethos out in the gritty St. Louis underground country community, he has witnessed the plight of his city, and Grelle has an ardent desire to be better. He sees things more clearly and is able to ask the hard questions. He’s also not afraid to take action to support minority voices. In July, Grelle put together a band of like-minded St. Louis musicians to back Patrick Haggerty–the first openly gay country artist, and the creator of the radically powerful Lavender Country album from the 70s–on his mid-Western Lavender Country tour. Touring with Haggerty, an icon of subversion in country music, was a key recent experience in Grelle’s understanding of the power of country songwriting.
To be released on Big Muddy Records on October 23, 2016, the best of St. Louis’ music scene comes out for Jack Grelle’s new album, including the South City Three (Pokey Lafarge’s band) and John Horton (The Bottle Rockets) along with a large cast of Big Muddy Records regulars, including Jenny Rogues Glynn, Chris & Brice Baricevic, Mary Anne Shulte, Mat Wilson, Justin Brown and more. Over the past three years of touring upwards of 150 dates a year Grelle has shared stages with Chris Stapleton, Joe Ely, Billy Joe Shaver, Pokey LaFarge and sat in with Dale Watson, an impressive resume for any artist.
On Got Dressed Up To Be Let Down, Jack Grelle adeptly weaves Cajun, Tejano, country, honky-tonk, rock and folk to create a passionately complex overlay of the genres. As well, through the diverse tracks on the album Grelle’s lyrical integrity stays consistent. From tackling the societal pressures women face on the title track, “Got Dressed Up To Be Let Down,” to writing about the deeply personal, platonic love for his matriarchal grandmother on “Birthday Cards,” Grelle’s intelligent, passionate, and astute lyricism ties the album into a stirring and emotional piece of work. Nowhere is this clearer than in the song “Changes Never Made,” which attempts to process the plight of the black community in America as seen through the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO, a mere ten miles away from Grelle’s home in St. Louis.
We think about the macro all the time, grappling with the realities of immense social change, while what Grelle is looking at isn’t to have all the answers but a way to have frank, open conversations about how to change ourselves and our communities. He knows there is a wrong side and a right side of history; he just wants us to be on the right side.