Markus Rill & The Troublemakers
Blue Rose Records
Heartfelt, Intimate and Gutsy Americana Drenched Country Songs.
Mrs Magpie and I are huge fans of German singer-songwriter Markus Rill; not least because he has a very individual and distinctive voice; but his very personal stories and songs take Americana/Country Music into a our hearts with just about every song; and with Sarah Stein he created one of my very favourite songs of all time; and one you should research before reading any further.
Go on…… I can wait.
Back again? It’s beyond ‘good’ isn’t it?
So, onto 2019 it is then
Possibly just from the title Saddle Up and Ride, but certainly within 30 seconds of the opening track you know you are onto a winner, with Rill and the Troublemakers dropping a game changer of a Country Rocker with a catchy chorus and a hummable melody on us without any warning, whatsoever.
Some, many songs are very personal here and many are from Rill’s clever imagination and some combine the two; and I can’t tell which is which.
As a man of ‘a certain age’ Rill sings about ‘love’ in a way younger writers can’t; making the reflective The Thing With Love or the captivating A Love So Strong very accessible and resonant to grown up all around the musical world.
Now I’ve listened a couple of times, there’s a ‘big sound’ here which belies the short time they spent in the studio; but that’s what comes of keeping the same band around you and constantly touring for a lot of years ……. it brings out the very best in songs like Words of Apology and the Southern Soul of Fearless, a co-write with Swede Eva Hillerd and and features Texan Elizabeth Lee on honeyed harmonies too.
Even as a fan I’ve found a few great surprises tucked away that need your attention; they release their inner Rolling Stones on A Girl That’s Gone and the claustrophobic Words of Apology utilises an accordion and skillful slide-guitar in a way that could be described as ‘Dylan covering Springsteen’ ….. but probably won’t be.
I’ve never asked my wife for her thoughts on the subject; but I love and empathise with Rill’s trademark ‘unrequited love songs’ and here he gives us another couple of gems in the hauntingly acoustic Emily and the brokenhearted Mistake Like Me; which may or may not have touched my heart in a way others can’t.
With so much going on here, and the way the songs swing seamlessly from the gentle Americana of songs like Length of Rope, through the gutsy Inside The Wheel and coming full circle with Conscience County Jail, choosing a Favourite Song is nigh on impossible; but try I will.
My first choice should probably be the insightful and clever Swampland of Your Mind, which really does conjure up some amazing imagery; and the other is another regular theme on Markus Rill’s albums; Old Man Now about the singers Father; and could easily be about my own Dad or possibly be how my sons see me. Whatever; it’s the type of song most songwriters fantasise about writing but 99.9% of the time fail miserably …….. but Rill describes this familial and very masculine love quite delightfully and very intimately too.
Apparently our friend and his band only booked the studio for ten days, hopefully coming out the other end with 10 songs; but in only five days created all 15 that make up this album; and I agree ……. there’s no filler here at all; I can’t think of anything that could or should be left off.
Every one’s a winner! .
Like many of us outside the US of A Rill grew up with a romantic image of this fascinating country and, just like me, the music, TV and Films have taken him on a fantastic journey, with SONGLAND only being the most recent staging point; and one I can’t recommend highly enough.
Released May 3rd 2019