Live At Fresh Brewed
Irony Laden Americana Drenched Folk Songs From Carolina Troubadour (and band)
During my recent sabbatical it appears I’ve become popular within the Folk Community; how else can you explain the glut of albums I’ve received in recent weeks …. some good, some plain bad, a few interesting and only one or two worthy of my time listening to and then writing up a review.
This is one of the latter … and I can’t even explain why I like it so much…. it’s ‘different’ is all I can say.
As the title suggests, this is a Live album and stars singer-songwriter and Folk Troubadour, Henry Luther with his band The Blackouts.
I’m guessing I knew I’d like it right from the git go; with the razor sharp and pithy opening track The New National Anthem; which has all the hallmarks of a songwriter immersing themselves in Randy Newman’s back catalogue, and thinking … “I can do that!” and he does; but the ragged backing and wheezing harmonica sound unlike anyone I’ve heard in recent years; but the song and especially the chorus … “Welcome to America bitches” will have half the people hearing it for the first time frozen in shock; but the other 50% shouting “Ain’t that the truth!”
Not for the last time; track two Stressed Out Suicidal Blues is littered with profanities; which I generally despise but here …. it actually makes this tragic song work.
The set list is a compact mix of the bands older songs and a few unreleased ones thrown in to ‘test the water’ and as I’d not heard of Henry Luther before, I don’t know which is which.
Much like Randy Newman whom I mentioned earlier, Henry Luther has a voice only a Mother (and me would like …. wheezy, occasionally flat and understated; but it is what it is and his songs won’t sound half as effective in any other hands.
The key to these songs is the depth that Luther mines to create his little pearls of wisdom ….Southern Cities immediatly springs to mind; but as an amendment I’m including Horry County Ballads I &II which are about Luther’s home town; and as he sings ‘sometimes it’s the faded memory’ that he loves best of all; and isn’t that true of most of us who have moved away?
There appears to be one ‘cover song here; Summer Love by a defunct band from Myrtle Beach called Wonder Shakedown (whose guitarist plays on the second half of the record), and I originally presumed it was from the pen of Mr Luther himself; but it’s not and just shows that are are far to many quality songwriters slipping under the radar.
It’s funny, but I’m not sure when the best ‘time of day’ will be suited to listen to this album; it’s hardly ‘driving music’ and I would love to be in the room when someone put it on as ‘background music for a supper party.’ Perhaps these songs; especially Jesus Second Amendment Blues, about Jesus turning up in modern America,alongside Birds and Choppy Cap’s Beard need to be listened to, alone with headphones on …. mostly for fear of frightening the cat (or other loved ones).
#Sigh … it’s about that time I need to select a Favourite Song; and I’m going for two similarly themed songs. The catchy toe-tapper I Love Liquor (But Liquor Don’t Love Me) is an obvious choice for me …. bringing back memories that I’ve had stored away for many a year; the other Beers Ago isn’t quite as black and white as the title would suggest; being as it is, a break-up song in the mode of RMHQ favourite Robbie Fulks …. who now I think about it is possibly an unintended influence on these songs …. as they won’t appeal to everyone; and Henry Luther doesn’t appear to give a damn …. just like Fulks.
While Henry Luther may never win a Grammy or headline Glastonbury; our musical world is all the better for having him and his poignant songs in it …. especially when the alternative is listening to Adele or Ed Sheeran on the Spotify.
#I’ve just spotted a photo on his website of the band on a stage with a Stas n Stripes flag draped over an amp; and the flag is over-stamped with the King of The Hill cast …. no wonder I like Henry Luther; any friend of Hank Hill is a friend of RMHQ!!
Released February 11th 2023
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