Nearly ten years in the making, The Task Has Overwhelmed Us is the long-awaited fourth volume in The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project series. Conceived in 2006 by the late Gun Club titan’s guitarist Cypress Grove, the Project has always aimed to highlight Pierce as one of America’s most fascinatingly influential singer-songwriters of the last century while propelling his outpourings into modern times by placing it in the hands of former collaborators, friends and fans. Following 2009’s We Are Only Riders, 2012’s The Journey Is Long and 2014’s Axels and Sockets, The Task Has Overwhelmed Us presents stellar interpretations of tracks from Pierce’s Gun Club and solo canons along with fresh works constructed from rehearsal skeletons, previously unheard lyrics, songs only performed live. Taking song ideas without lyrics and words looking for musical settings gave rise to what Cypress Grove calls “Frankenstein songs”.
The stellar roll-call of contributors features the Project’s original recurring core including Nick Cave, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, Lydia Lunch, Youth, Jim Jones, Warren Ellis, Mark Stewart, Hugo Race, Cypress himself plus Mick Harvey and J.P. Shilo as The Amber Lights, even Jeffrey himself from original tapes. These are joined by new bloods including Dave Gahan, Suzie Stapleton, Duke Garwood, Pam Hogg, The Coathangers, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Peter Hayes and Leah Shapiro, Humanist, The Walkabouts’ Chris Eckman, Jozef van Wissem, Jim Jarmusch, Chantal Acda and Welsh space-rockers Sendelica with US vocalists Wonder and Dynamax Roberts.
Like Pierce’s beloved jazz, the cast often spill into each other’s tracks. The mood throughout the eighteen tracks is of rare gems crafted with love, respect and the energy of committed fans, even obsessives channeling whatever facet or fragment of Pierce’s unruly muse fires their creative juices. It’s pretty much carved in legend how Jeffrey Lee Pierce roared out of post-punk LA brandishing an incendiary genius that flamed in the spotlight for just fifteen years before his untimely death in 1996. Despite the impact of the Gun Club and resonance of Pierce’s back catalogue, his legacy seemed in danger of shrinking to eternal cult status earlier this century, fading against modern blandness yet ever-radiating for a gaggle of core diehards he’d touched with his supernatural muse (quite possibly in a blizzard of chaos).
1. Mother Of Earth – Dave Gahan
2. La La Los Angeles – The Coathangers
3. Yellow Eyes – Jeffrey Lee Pierce (feat. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis)
4. Debbie By The Christmas Tree – The Amber Lights
5. Go Tell The Mountain – Mark Lanegan (feat. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis)
6. Going Down The Red River – Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind
7. The Stranger In Our Town – Peter Hayes, Leah Shapiro, & Humanist
8. Secret Fires – Suzie Stapleton (feat. Duke Garwood)
9. Tiger Girl – Hugo Race
10. On The Other Side – Nick Cave & Debbie Harry
11. Idiot Waltz – Cypress Grove
12. Tiger Girl – The Amber Lights
13. From Death To Texas – Alejandro Escovedo
14. Vodou – Mark Stewart
15. Time Drains Away – Lydia Lunch, Jozef van Wissem, Jim Jarmusch
16. Lucky Jim – Chris Eckman & Chantal Acda
17. I Was Ashamed – Pam Hogg (feat. Warren Ellis & Youth)
18. Bad America – Sendelica (feat. Wonder & Dynamax Roberts)