Jack Melody and his Young Turks-
...What may come as the biggest surprise to a first-time listener...is the sheer depth and beauty of Melody's lyrical and musical vision. Songs which may at first seem too clever by half prove, upon repeated listenings, to possess a killer mettle, the tensile spring of hammered steel. This is music of genuine heart and profound intelligence... ...[It is] this warmth, irresistible and utterly charming, which lends [this] work its deep humanity and poetry. Indeed, Melody's lyrics alone are worth the price of admission to his world's sad, happy sideshows.
my charmed life opens with a dazzlingly cheery, up-tempo jazz number of the same name in which the singer declares, "I'm the guy who only has enchanted evenings, I'm the guy who gets the girl of your dreams" with such happy confidence that one is almost tempted to punch his lights out... But wait. Is this the same fellow who sings, in the next song, the moody, smoky jazz ballad "Close, no cigar," "...I coulda been a contender, I coulda been on TV..."?
One and the same. Melody embraces emotional and musical polarities with an adeptness born of first-hand knowledge. There is no faking, or mistaking, bitter irony, and placing the two songs side by side is a masterstroke of blackest humor. "At night, you hear the trains" is a haunting tale of a young and eager heart trapped in a town that "folds up at dusk, and dreams aren't welcome here," and of the endless lure of the eternally-leaving circus... "Kilroy was here," a mad polka played at breakneck speed, likens man's inexorable need to leave his mark on the world, from prehistory to Goethe to Shelley, to the desperate taggings of a graffiti artist...
"Maggie, with green eyes," a tender ballad that calls up the ghost of Stephen Foster's "Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair," is a wistful remembrance of a much-loved girl that would not sound out of place at a feis ceol in Ireland... "Thirty pieces of silver" is a complex, bluesy study of the price of betrayal, while "Samba Ordinaire" amazes with the band's dead-on delivery of a driving samba as Melody portrays the gray-flannel guy with a quotidian load of ordinary pursuits...
"Barbie and Ken" traces the course of a marriage from tremulous hope and innocence to a sad dissolution...accompanied by a hushed piano and cello arrangement. The band offers its skilled and heartfelt praises to the master of cabaret himself, Kurt Weill, in the tango instrumental, "I am living at the Villa Borghese,"...and with a sinuous...version of Weill's "Alabama Song"...
"Gone in October,"...is a bittersweet meditation on [Jack Kerouac] "the ghost of an angel in an uneasy chair/gone in October." Seldom has the Beat icon been remembered with greater delicacy or affection... Melody and the Young Turks end the recording with "Mr. Horizon," a Tiki-room ballad that puts a whole new spin on the meaning of perspective...
[Little Jack Melody and his Young Turks] are making music for the end of a century...and the advent of another. They show us where jazz has been, and where it can go, if we are so lucky. Their work is dense and challenging, a virtual archaeological dig of Western philosophy, poetry and music...
- Julia Olivarez y Cavazos