To My Green Mountains Home
Carefully Planned and Crafted Country Songs from From Downtown Austria.
The title of this, Prinz Grizzley’s second album, after “Come On In” forms the second part of a sentence – the full scope of which will be completed by the title of the third album (For those of you not paying attention at the back, that’s:
#1. Come On In
# 2. To My Green Mountains Home
This carefully planned and crafted approach is reflected through the release, where the songwriting stands to the fore – each track standing alone, but also as part of a cohesive body of reflections on the life and loves of the everyman – whether he’s from East Nashville, or the fabulously monickered Egg, Austria, home of Prinz Grizzley aka Chris Comper.
The fuzz guitar, pedal steel and soulful vocal of the opening track “You Don’t Know Love” explores how love is seen from different viewpoints and acts as a primer for many of the tracks to come, in lyrical content.
“Nothing Left But Scars” and “Keep The Fire High” both deal with failed love and musically bring in a few psychedelic touches with swirly organ from producer Beau Bedford on the former, whereas the latter is laced with a fuzzy bass-led cosmic cowboy groove.
“Meet Me at The Pines” is even lyrically bleaker with the song’s character wanting to save someone – who he himself has pushed to the edge, thus is the paradoxical nonsensical nature of relationships.
Things get a bit more hopeful in theme on “Longing For a Fire” where driving mandolin and harmonica create an adrenaline rush of hope for the singer who wants love but can’t change to get it – and “All I got is buckets filled with rain”.
Positivity and the finding of love is out there though and on “Drifting” – with Erin Rae featured on soaring backing vocals – there “ain’t no way back to solitude” because our hero, on the cliff-edge of emotional disaster has found love.
Elsewhere on the album, there’s a great deal of exploration of the working class everyman; “Rush Little Man”’s melancholy pedal steel underscores a talking blues which explores similar themes to Springsteen’s “Factory”, whereas father issues and wanting to be something different romps along to a train beat on the Texas Meat Purveyors’ style “Cutting Wood”.
There’s a tribute to the strength of women and how they support men on the Mexican rhythms of Magdalena but for me the album’s standout track is the Waits-ian “Shovel” a story of the immigrant working man who comes to town, works hard – and gets the girl, much to the chagrin of the locals who think he’d “better stick to the shovel”….
The title track is a fluid Gill Landryesque paean to small town life and tradition – and to feel part of something. Recorded live in a couple of takes, it’s a confident and snug performance which reflects the security that home can give you – and that theme is also played out gloriously on the final track which launches into Decemberists territory with the sea shanty singalong of “The Salty Life of Ocean” which reaffirms that everything may go to pieces but you can always “go home to the safe shore”.
Prinz Grizzley with “To My Green Mountains Home” have delivered a carefully crafted thing of beauty – apart from Chris Comper and his band the Beargaroos, kudos must also go to producer Beau Bedford who has made sure that performances and sound match the sentiments perfectly to create a finely honed and mature record.
Looking forward to Number Three!