Burn These Pages
Lost Hubcap Records
A Rare Story-Telling Rootsy Americana Talent in the Grand Tradition.
As Santa starts pulling on his boots in readiness for grooming the reindeer, I’m still playing ‘catch up’ with reviews from November! Some have already fallen by the wayside, but I can’t let 2018 fade away without telling you about this charming album from son of Baton Rouge Doug Schmude (rhymes with moody apparantly).
For once it was a combination of the CD’s artwork and the artiste’s quirky name that drew my attention to this disc two months ago, which has led to several ‘listening sessions’ each of which has helped unfurl ever more from Shmude’s clever and intelligent songwriting.
As always I judge albums by their opening track and Setting Fires on the Moon ticks every box I have; a fascinating love story sung by a warmly distinctive voice over a rather lovely melody. What’s not to like?
Even Mrs. Magpie found herself tapping her toes to Silas James; but there’s so much more to this snapshot of small-town Middle America than a catchy tune. Who among us won’t have their imagination piqued by the opening lines;
“His Hair was whiter as the white album,
eyes as Blue as a Skip James song,
he knew music like the B-Side of his hand,
a song for every problem known to man!”
loosely reminding me of my Favourite Song of all time, Mark Germino’s Rex Bob Lowenstein, this is one for all of us. OK it’s a bit of a fantasy song to me; but I really hope Silas James really did exist.
This is followed by the darkly brooding Worry Stone which feature some delicious fiddle playing by Georgina Hennessy, and is a very clever story in a Jackson Brown kind of way. As I said at the beginning, it’s one of the songs that slowly unravel the more you hear it.
One song especially fascinates me; and it’s one of those songs that make people like me with no talent at all, sit back in awe as they listen. My Daddy’s Musket is something of a historical tale about the Civil Way on the surface; but touches on many things that effect people; especially in the USA today. Congratulations all round chaps and chapesses.
Mostly this is a Singer-Songwriter album that straddles the Rootsy edges of Country and the prosaic edge of Modern Folk, but there’s a rocky side to Doug Schmude too; with Salt being a moody Lo-Fi assault on the senses; and one I love to bits!
The album closes with the rather delicate title track Burn These Pages, a songwriter’s song in some ways, as it feels like you are intruding on a man’s personal thoughts at times. But that’s the art of the songwriter isn’t it?
I’m troubled as to what to choose for my Favourite Song; Silas James certainly has it’s merits as does the haunting Chris Knight song Enough Rope; another intense Lo-Fi rocker that’s chock full of dirty electric guitar and a story-line that Springsteen would have been proud to have written circa The River; but I’m going for the stunning El Tren de la Muerte, a thoughtful ‘Border Song’ in the mould of Tom Russell and Dave Alvin that will surely turn up on albums by Schmude’s contemporary’s in years to come.
There’s a whole lot to like here on Doug Schmude’s 4th release; especially the very mature songwriting and the clever production which can be claustrophobic when necessary but also allowing room for songs to breath and slowly filter into your subconscious.
Released 16th November 2018