Somber, sincere and utterly self-aware, Jeff Ray’s Our Little Town is a sharp, if not laconic ode to small town sentimentality and despair. Ray, humbled tour guide as he is, uses the geography of his EP to navigate through his younger years culminating in an experience that feels natural and not unlike a homecoming of sorts.
Ray bares a great deal of vulnerability on the EP, from the minor indiscretions of puppy love (“What If She Does”) to a more salient look into life cut short. The figurative phantoms of Ray’s young adulthood come to a head on “Somebody’s Cryin’,“ a doleful look into the life of Ray’s friend and its tragic early ending.
Despite some darkness, Our Little Town manages to provide a fun perspective found at the bottom of a dive bar’s musty pint. It’s not for lack of caring that endears Ray to listeners. Rather, it’s an understanding that many small-town tragedies, no matter how significant at the time, can ultimately be rinsed away.
Jeff Ray presents a freeing feeling, curled up on the couch at the home of your folks whilst looking back towards simpler times. His music is the personification of a recently warmed hearth, a short walk home from the neighbor’s and a blissful evening poring through memories with an old friend.
Our Little Town is the perfect nod to those who gew up in the sleepy hollows as well as a point of reference for those who may have trouble understanding Ray’s provincial dictation. In either case, Ray is an amiable voice of reason amidst the relative cruelty that memory can provide.