Up The Flatland Stairs
Howlin Dog Records
West of Bakersfield and East of Nashville.
With so much music floating around the ether I can’t possibly know everyone’s back catalogue when I receive a new album, and in the case of living in NE England this is especially so when it’s Country Music in most of its guises.
Yet I can still feel disappointed at not knowing singer-songwriters like Texan Bob Livingston. His CV includes stints in the Lost Gonzo Band, touring the Middle East (and beyond) and being friends and writing buddies with Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jerry Jeff Walker and a host of other Austin and Nashville names from my record collection.
Hey ho; enough about me.
A mournful harmonica opens Bob’s sorrowful rendition of Jerry Jeff Walker’s Shell Game on the first track here and my heart immediatly began to melt, as the singer delves deep into our souls.
That’s only one of three songs by someone else amid the 17 that make up Up The Flatland Stairs and alongside the dirty Twang of David Halley’s A Month of Somedays and the late Walter Hyatt’s gorgeously laid-back The Early Days show’s what immaculate and diverse taste Livingston has; but that’s not what got him inducted into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame!
That would be the way he can spin from the Western Swing of Public Domain through the Honky Tonkin’ on the tongue in cheek break-up song You Got My Goat and round it all off with some good old fashioned West Coast Country Rock with Caution to the Wind and That’s The Way Things Go (featuring Eliza Gilkyson no less) and make them all go together like peaches and cream.
There really is a little bit of everything ‘Country’ here, with Livingston’s warm and friendly voice being the golden thread that pulls everything together.
While I hear a bit of the Bakersfield Sound in The Early Days and Cowgirl’s Lullaby I sense Bob Livingston’s Soul lives on the West Coast; as most of the songs here are designed to make you want to kick back and wallow in the emotions that are stirred up with a beer in one hand and your first love’s hand in the other.
With so much to pick from selecting my Favourite Song wasn’t ever going to be easy; but the touchingly Guy Clark Influenced It Just Might Be Your Loving caught my ears last week; and it’s only got better and more intimate over the last few days.
Bob Livingston is a brand new discovery to me and as such; is the driving force behind the website……. bringing the best from the shadows into the daylight.
Released USA January 8th 2018
Released Europe February 8th 2019