Back to the Lander
New Songs From The Gilded Palace of Sin in Lucky Town.
When I first got into this ‘scene’; one of my ‘go to’ labels; was Glitterhouse, from Germany, who had the rights to a staggering amount of Americana and Alt. Country stuff that I could barely afford to buy, but did anyway.
A few weeks ago a German musician, called Tom Mess, whose 2017 album FORGET EVERYTHING (and ROCK! ) was a hit at RMHQ; has now formed his own record label in a bid to become an overnight millionaire (or perhaps to share his love for great music – you decide); and this is the first release.
First off; I love the cover as it’s very reminiscent of those CBS albums that my brother had in his collection, that I wasn’t allowed to touch …. or so he thought.
Then, as soon as I heard Elijah Ocean, from Maine, US of A croon the first few bars of Back to Lander, I knew that this was going to be 100% Quality ….. and it is.
That opening track is a slow burning Country Rocker (as we used to call them) in the vein of Poco or The Eagles; melodies, sizzling guitar and a gut-punching harmonica that combine on a story straight out of Smalltown America that will break your heart….. and conjure up your very own imaginary video.
There’s more than a touch of that ‘old school’ Country Rock here; rather than what we now call Alt. Country; but whichever way you fly; you are gonna love and adore the imaginative words and melodies in River of Red, Lily of the Valley and Last Night in Montana; or I’m a Dutchman!
It’s not clear from my copy if this is Ocean’s touring band, or session musicians or just his friends backing him; but whoever they are, they manage to capture the ‘magic’ we all dream of hearing on record exceptionally well; and if it is his touring band; the world is in for a treat when they rock up to the Whore’s Arms in the Backside of Nowhere and blow your minds when they play Loveland or the bouncy and dancelicious Ou on The Runway; and if you are Under 25 you will be discovering your Most Favourite Band of all time, that night!
Tucked away in the middle too, are a couple of rawer, slower tunes; The Places That We Came From and Lily of the Valley that evoke memories here of Lucky Town/Human Touch Springsteen; and that’s no bad thing as these two albums have aged far better than you’d think.
On an album full of ‘potential singles’ and sing-along ear-worms; selecting an RMHQ Favourite has been easier than I’d expected; as yesterday, Mrs. Magpie told me which song I liked best; and as a woman ‘she is never wrong’ (????) but I can’t actually argue this time; as Came Down From Denver, is an absolute doozy as it details two lovers, a singer and his girlfriend on a road trip stopping off at Graceland on their way to Cheyenne ……… let’s just say that it’s the best damn song Gram Parsons ‘never wrote’ #wink.
In recent years this type of (West Coast) Country Rock has had something of a resurgence via Sturgill Simpson, Sam Morrow and our own personal favourite Sam Outlaw; and I think I can add Elijah Ocean to that list of quality singer-songwriters who are flying the flag Good Ole Country Music.
Mr Ocean has been around for a few years now; and this is his 6th full length album; and received praise over the years from some influential publications, but ……… well; let’s just say the cream may take time to rise to the top; but it eventually does and let’s hope this is the album to do just that.
Released December 2019
Vinyl April 2020