Grampall Jookabox, nee David Adamson, is as strange as his stage name would suggest. Adamson is from Indianapolis, Indiana, which is also my childhood stomping ground, give or take thirty minutes (in those parts, we count in minutes to be traveled, not miles). With an affinity for home that grows the longer I stay away, Ropechain fills a need in my life, a record that sounds clumsy and aimless when it is anything but. It is exactly as I once was, and if I hadn’t left, would I be making incomprehensible music in an insane asylum somewhere in the suburbs? It is completely plausible, and after surveying the options, I’d rather my moniker be Jookabox than Mellencamp.
Extremes are a favorite theme on this record, along with anxiety and the occasional dose of the paranormal. Loving on another fellow Hoosier, Grampall Jookabox sings about the King of Pop on “I Will Save Young Michael,” sympathizing with superstar burnout. Calling Jackson his brother because they’re both from Indiana, I wonder if that makes me their sister. One can only hope. On “Black Girls,” he sings about all of the things Black women can do that he cannot, often in cartoonish superhero(ine) language. I can’t decide if this is some sort of backwards compliment or wildly insulting.
“The Girl Ain’t Preggers” is perhaps the most bizarrely appealing track, on which GJ explores the complicated feelings that go with a pregnancy scare. “I need some money right now/I ain’t got no money/Can’t pay for no baby” is an honest take on an unexpected accident, and he goes on to lament his lack of health insurance and solid footwear. Yet, Adamson circles back, admitting his sadness that in fact, the girl is not preggers. He loves babies, even if his bank account would not smile on such an addition to his life. These things are always more complicated than money would imply.
Ropechain will probably bewilder conservative ears and confuse those who love straightforward lyrics and concrete ideas, but sensibility never made a good record.