Velvet Covered Country-Soul with a Barbed Centre For the Lonely and Lovelorn.
I’m not even sure if he’s ever played in the NE of the UK but Luke Winslow-King is one of the few RMHQ Favourites that we have still to see playing live; and that’s a list of three now Leonard Cohen has died.
Anyway, onto his latest album Blue Mesa which has been on and off the ‘metaphorical’ Office Record Player for a couple of months now; often working as something of a ‘pallet cleanser’ in between lonesome singer-songwriters and feisty Blues bands; but because of work commitments is only getting reviewed on its day of release…..sorry guys.
When you are about to slide the shiny disc into your player you only have two choices to make before pressing play; and they depend on the time of day because to get the best out of this album you need to kick back and a) keep the coffee coming or b) sip something long, smooth and alcoholic……it’s that type of album.
Opening track You Got Mine finds Luke smoothly criss-crossing Roy Orbison and Chris Isaak territory with ease on a breathtaking ballad that rolls around some magnificent organ playing from Mike Lynch and a couple of searing guitar solos from long time collaborator Roberto Luti.
Track #2 Leghorn Woman picks the pace up to ‘stroll and strut’ as that Winslow-King ‘signature sound’ oozes out of the speakers like warm molasses looking for some crackers.
The dark and brooding Better For Knowing You is possibly a ‘bittersweet ‘ love song, but with the emphasis very firmly on ‘love’ as Luke looks back on a lost love with some exceptionally sincere ‘regret’ that will touch every listener’s heart, and make us think back to similar feelings that we couldn’t articulate in such a delicate and honest manner at the time.
When called upon Luke and friends can rock the socks of a song too, as Thought I Heard You proves, which has the organ a’weeping and a’wailing as twin electric guitars sound like a battle between warring Allman relatives; but that’s followed by the divine Gospel flavoured Country-Soul of Breakdown The Walls proving what a talent this guy has in reserve.
Although born and again living in Michigan, Luke has spent the last 10 years in New Orleans and that City and the surrounding countryside certainly appears to have infiltrated his psyche on the gorgeous Born to Roam, Chicken Dinner and After The Rain, which all conjure up romantic images of cruising around the Delta in an open top car with your best gal by your side and no particular place to go and no special time to get there.
Even after all this time I’m struggling to choose a ‘Favourite Song’ as several have suited various moods I’ve been in, but it finally boils down to two and you can only separate them by a cigarette paper, with Farewell Blues, which closes the album being the best song JJ Cale never wrote as Winslow-King takes us on a trip to the bottom of his heart, making it a very close second to the actual title track Blue Mesa which just might be the best song Luke has ever recorded and one of the coolest and refined I’ve heard in a lot of years…….and I’ve heard a lot.
Like a fine wine, there’s plenty of constituent parts that make up this inspired record, but after 5 previous albums I think it’s fair to say Luke Winslow-King has finally found the sound that finally defines him on BLUE MESA making it a bit of a Masterpiece of the genre.
Released 11th May 2018