El Cortez Records
Heartbreaking Poetry, Pathos and Country Music.
The Delines almost passed me by a few years ago; but out of mild interest I went to see them at the Jumpin’ Hot Club……… and my head nearly exploded with excitement!
For me, the legendary Wily Vlautin was just a constituent part as I couldn’t take my eyes off the mesmeric singer Amy Boone; who combined abject shyness with raw star quality; and when she sang…… ooohhheee Mama!
So, when this album, which has been four years in the making following a horrific car accident which has necessitated God knows how many operations and skin grafts as well as having to learn to walk again for singer Amy Boone; arrived in the first week of December I immediatly cleared the boards for a whole day when I could immerse myself in ‘the magic’ and ‘magic’ it undoubtedly is!
The fiercely atmospheric Lo-Fi opening track Cheer Up Charley really does set the mood for an hour or so of velvet tinged sad songs that will both cheer you up and make you cry; sometimes both at the same time.
Vlautin’s songwriting and subject matter is a bit left of centre; but still Country to the core as he places Boone right in the middle of Lonelyville in the title track The Imperial and later; in That Old Haunted Place his tragic words make Amy Boone sound akin to Bobbie Gentry trying to sound like Dusty Springfield; and the result is electrifying.
With that in mind; there is a certain Gothic – Lo Fi charm to Let’s Be Us Again and Holly The Hustle, both of which are so deep you soon find yourself wallowing chest deep in their misery and loneliness; but with a rye smile on your face.
There’s a ‘wicked irony’ to this style of Country Music; as Vlautin allows you to listen on many levels; but when you start peeling away the layers that make up Eddie and Polly or He Don’t Burn For Me you know you are in the presence of greatness; and that includes the talent interpreting his words in a way that will make your spine tingle.
We all know Vlautin to be an accomplished story teller and author; but as I read the lyrics to Where Are You Sonny and/or Waiting On The Blue it’s plain to see; and hear from Boone’s beautiful renditions that he has a Poets soul and way with words.
The inclusion of the stark Roll Back My Life transcends any of Vlautin’s previous works by a late night Country mile. The song may or may not be specifically be about Amy’s last few years, but it could be about mine or possibly yours too. Almost Waitsian in context and delivery, it is so atmospheric and gentle you will get lost in it; which is why it is our Favourite Track here; even if it did make me cry.
If I were writing for a different publication it would certainly be 5/5 as it is a rare piece of art masquerading as music, unfurling as it does at its own pace, showcasing not just a stellar imagination but a singer, in Amy Boone that conjures up the heartache of Janis alongside the majesty of Dusty and the world weariness of Bobbie; while very much sounding unlike anyone else in the world.
Released January 11th 2019