Red River Dreams
Howlin Dog Records
Delightfully Laid Back Country Infused Americana.
Michael Hearne? Me neither; but yet again my Swedish friends at Hemifran have come up trumps again with another album by someone destined to become my new favourite singer of the moment. I will start with the album cover; who reading this wouldn’t pic a CD out of the rack featuring a man in a big white cowboy hat and a well manicured greying beard? Not many I guess. The title track Red River Dreams opens the album like a warm summer breeze. Hearne’s light and charming voice reminded me straight away of John Denver and even Don Gibson; and the song itself is absolutely delightful. By track #3 Magic it felt like kicking off a tight pair of leather shoes and paddling in a mountain stream, as Hearne gently sings about the ‘magic of a Tennessee night’ conjuring up more romantic images than a tour guide could ever imagine. The pace eventually picks up to ‘stroll mode’ on The Highway Is a Friend of Mine; as Hearne really, really picks his guitar, showing why he has been singing and playing on stages since the age of 7 many years ago. With an album like this it is all too easy to just settle back and let it all drift over you; but that would be a mistake as you would miss the marvelous nuances in the lyrics of The Drunken Lady of the Morning and later Lesson to be Learned From Love; both of which brought a tear to the corner of my eye. The album closes with two disparate songs that will probably be in the collections of everyone; but define Michael Hearne’s style and taste. The Texan adds some sweet pedal-steel and tricky acoustic guitar to Gordon Lightfoot’s Early Morning Rain and this followed by the album closer Return of the Grievous Angel. A song I have sadly heard being publicly murdered many time over the years; Michael Hearne doesn’t add or take away very much; but his voice manages to bring this classic up to date as a Country/Americana crossover, making me smile from start to finish. It took a couple of plays before the ‘penny dropped’ as to who the subject of June 25, 2009 was about….and, boy what a subject for a Country singer to write about….the effect the death of Michael Jackson had on him! A clever and very interesting song and subject that sits very comfortably with everything else here; which is the sign of a very good songwriter. My favourite song though; and one that probably defines Red River Dreams more than any other is Back in the Day. Okay; the subject is a staple of Country Music; but this song has stuck in my head days after last playing the disc. There’s nothing fancy about this album, and nor does it feature an array of famous guest stars (although RMHQ favourite Kelley Mickwee does provide harmonies on a couple of songs), but it’s an album you dream of finding in a record store in the middle of nowhere; and it will go on to never be far from the top of your pile of music to play on a sunny day.
Released July 2016