I Like It Down Here
Daphne Records/Soundly Music
Songs of The South in All It’s Poetic and Ragged Glory.
Regardless of the content, I’m always going to like a Will Kimbrough album, that’s just how I roll.
As per usual I’d played this disc three times before I got around to reading the Press Release, and I’m glad I did…….. as it got to join some very oblique dots for me.
First and foremost I never knew Kimbrough was from Alabama, and Lower Alabama at that; but you actually need to know that detail to ‘buy into’ this ‘Love Letter and Prayer to The South’ as he quaintly describes his beautifully motley collection of heartfelt songs.
The shimmering opening track Hey Trouble is a good ole fashioned ‘bad luck’ Blues song wrapped up in an Americana melody and chock full of Kimbrough’s trademark guitar licks. What’s not to like?
But….. put your emotional seat-belt on for what is to follow.
The title track I Like It Down Here follows with the opening stanza confirming the theme of what this album is generally about,
“She asked me when’s the bad luck stop
When do we rise to the top?
It’s awful hard work pulling up the rear.”
It’s actually a love song of sorts; and one of those songs that will stick in the memory bank for years; coming back to haunt you when you least expect it.
There’s so much going on in Will Kimbrough’s professional life, that he didn’t need to write and record a solo album; but with so much happening politically and socially in his beloved South and especially his home State of Alabama he appears to have got the itch to write about things in his very own and deeply personal manner, going back to his Roots basically.
Oddly enough this gives him the opportunity to drop musical surprises, with the jaunty I’m Not Running Away, the Soulful – When I Get To Memphis, the thoughtful – Star, and indeed the wistful in Saltwater & Sand which I’d never have really expected in advance.
On any other album his two Southern Blues Deluxe tracks, Buddha Blues and It’s a Sin would truly be deemed exceptional, with the latter starting with the gut-wrenching lines:
“Innocent babies come into this world
Singing their little hearts out
Daddy says it’s a sin …… to kill Mockingbirds
I have no reason to doubt”
Attach those stinging words to a a pleading singer and funereal paced N’Orleans melody and you have a song that will break every heart that hears it.
But…….takes a deep breath….. there’s also a song here that is probably the cornerstone to this very record, with everything else depending on it’s unyielding power to allow them to breathe on their own.
I feel guilty calling Alabama (For *Michael Donald) my Favourite Song here; because it’s much, much more than that.
As you do when you first play an album the songs drift in and out of your consciousness but not this one…… phew, Kimbrough’s words and this horrible true story knocked me sideways immediatly. I don’t intend spoiling anything for you, but you simply MUST LISTEN to this song; it just might change your life a little bit.
If Will Kimbrough had only ever written and created this one song, he could still die a happy and proud man indeed.
When you check out the credits you will see a myriad of Guest Vocalists that are household names; but ignore that……. this is very much Will Kimbrough’s career defining album and his alone.
I come from a mining village in NW Durham whose ‘reputation precedes it’ in our region; but it’s my homeland and I’m therefore allowed to openly criticise it….. but God Help anyone else who does; and that’s how this special songwriter and storyteller shows his love for his own Homeland ….. he’s allowed to tell it how it is, warts and all.
Released 19th April 2019