You’ve Been Away So Long
Boston singer/songwriter Alice Howe’s reference points lay in 60’s folk and 70’s Southern Californian style; not just her penmanship but also in her approach to her songs. Part Joan Baez and part Joni Mitchell (Blue period).
This 5 track EP showcases her wistful style with some fine songs. The title track You’ve Been Away So Long, as you might imagine, is a call to her ‘darling, who’s been away so long’. She avoids the obvious clichés of comparing a missed loved one with missed birthdays, summers alone or long walks alone and instead, talks of the shores and, mountains and how the trees have grown since her loved one has been gone. Special mention at this point goes to Jeff Fielder who is handling practically everything that is either plucked or strummed.
Homeland Blues is the track that is getting plenty of airplay at the moment; with that man Jeff Fielder providing some tasteful Dobro that supports Alice Howes finger-style acoustic playing. It’s a twist on the old “Woke up this morning, Grandmama had them too,” it’s a familiar story of someone looking forward to the day that they can book their ticket home, but with no mention of the person she’s singing to going with her. Are they coming with? Is it a single trip? The press release will tell you it’s a driving, fingerpicked blues, but it’s not. It’s a delightful variation on a straightforward 12 bar and all the better for it.
On Make A Fool Out Of Me Hard it’s hard not to warm to the opening lines “When you hit your stride on a Monday night at a half empty bar downtown”. It’s a gentle country waltz about arriving in the Hollywood hills with no prospects and no promises. It’s possibly this track that we best hear Jeff Fielders 1920 Gibson L-1 archtop providing the sweet picked lines, supporting and not intruding on the tale of lessons learned and experienced gained.
Courtesy or Guest Reviewer TONY PEARCE
Released 21 August 2017