Durham County Poets
Out of the Woods
Memphis Infused Swampy Soul and R&B All The Way From Quebec
As I was born and bred in the original County Durham, in NE England any reference to ‘God’s Country’ in my email folder is always going to grab my attention .
The only annoying thing here; is that I’d not previously heard of Canadians, the Durham County Poets before, and this is their fifth album.
With all that in mind I had no idea what to expect when I pressed ‘play’ on the car stereo ….. perhaps I was even expecting Folk Music; but opening track Working On It is actually a horn-fuelled Rhythmaly infused Blues stomper that I instantly fell in love with.
The type of music that sounds just as good in a Concert Hall as it does on a Saturday night in the backroom of a cramped and seedy bar.
This is followed by the glorious Together In the Groove which would make a great signature theme tune for a Quebec based PI drama; and singer Kevin Harvey sounding like the illicit offspring of an affair between Bonnie Raitt and Boz Scaggs, if I’m not mistaken.
All through the album the band are as tight as a drum; held together by an industrial strength rhythm section that really gets the chance to shine during Back At the Groove Shack and the slow and sultry Good Kind of Crazy, which also had my shaking my shoulders to the groove a couple of times (in the car!).
With the benefit of hindsight I certainly wasn’t expecting such a groovalicious set of songs as what the band dish up; regularly straddling the line between Little Feet and Boz Scaggs with consummate ease; not least on the salacious Love’s Got a Hold On Me (which also features some heartbreaking piano playing) and the Cajun tinged and Gospel-lite That’s What Makes Me Smile about the narrator’s daughter getting married, which closes the album in the most delightful of ways.
There is one cover song here; and it’s a Bob Dylan song I’ve never heard before; Not Dark Yet; and in the way Adele did with ‘her Dylan song’ this has been twisted and turned until the Swampy arrangement is absolutely perfect for Kevin and the band to bring the very best out of His Bobness’ poetic words and leave this listener quite breathless.
This is followed by What We Got Going On; which has a similarly dark claustrophobic tone; but slowly builds and builds until everything synch’s together as one in the last few haunting lines.
In some ways playing and liking OUT OF THE WOODS has been a case of ‘right place/right time’ as Summer has finally got its act together in the UK and the Memphis influenced R&B ‘sound’ Durham County Poets create has been a perfect soundtrack for several car journeys in the stifling heat; as well as afternoons in the conservatory reading a book based in LA; which sort of brings me to my two most favourite tracks; Mean Old Dog; which allows the horn section free and unbridled reign plus the truly majestic bittersweet Through the Glass, with its dazzling guitar interludes and heartbreaking vocals.
This album has been a joy from start to finish and is so good I’ve even delved into their back-catalogue and I’m already looking forward to future releases; plus it’s gone straight into the file marked ‘Best of 2022’..
Released June 24th 2022
BUY DON’T SPOTIFY