Blue Ridge Blood
Lil’ Damsel Records
The Dark Heart of Alt. Country Finds a New Voice.
WAHAY! Technically her third album, if you count the long forgotten Nanahally River CD from 2000, this is Chelle Rose, late of Lenoir City, Tennessee but residing in Nashville since 1996 follow up to the critically acclaimed Ghost of Browder Holler and and in my humble opinion, something of a modern day Country masterpiece.
Honestly; from the beautifully photographed Album Cover through to the last notes on the disc everything here points to Chelle Rose becoming the new Queen of Alt. Country, Americana or whatever we want to call music that isn’t Top 40 Country Crap.
You don’t have to read her biography to know Chelle Rose has had a hell of a life; just listen to the songs starting with the stunning opening song Paintsville Table; a troubled tale of her coal miner father and brother who she tells us in the opening line, ‘Ain’t no sunshine in the gut of that mountain/Daddy begged his boy to be anything but a miner/but his lady got a baby in her belly/so he traded his dreams to put food on that Paintsville Table.’
Another very personal family song; is Mean Grandpappy, which includes the lines ‘Not a tear in the eye of any of his kin/Grandy’s gone home to Satan’s Den/Grandpappy Rose was a mean Sonbitch’!! I can picture Chelle curling her lip ‘Elvis style’ when singing the song; or actually spitting out the lyrics more likely.
Track #2 the gut wrenching Reckon With The Devil nearly took my breath away the first time I heard it. Rose’s voice sounds close to breaking Sergio Webb’s crystal clear Dobro playing cuts through a Native American back-beat like a switchblade.
The bittersweet title track Blue Ridge Blood features Country Royalty in the manner of Buddy Miller on harmonies; but it’s Sergio Webb and his Dobro that nearly steals the show.
I’ve said before that we don’t have enough Railroad songs these days; and Chelle rights that wrong with the marvellous Southern 4501; which had me smiling from start to finish.
I wish I could describe Chelle Rose’s voice to you; but my vocabulary isn’t that good…..but it certainly is distinctive and will haunt your soul on songs like Hidin’ Hole and Sing Pretty which closes the album.
On the flip side of ‘that coin’ is my favourite song here; Dammit Darling; which epitomises the type of bittersweet Country Music I’ve loved for 40 odd years. Chelle sings of her love for a man who loves another……and that is followed by the swaggering Not Your Girl; a song that takes ‘feminism’ into a whole new stratosphere. Come on; does Country Music in any shape or form get better than this?
At various times Chelle Rose conjures up memories of Rocking Magpie favourites Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier and more importantly Loretta Lynn, Jeannie C Riley and Bobbie Gentry.
Is this album Southern Gothic? Alt. Country? Folk? Americana? Hell; I don’t know but I do know it is essential listening and will be in my end of year Top 10 and somewhere very near the top.
Released August 5th 2016