Daniel Meade and Lloyd Reid IF YOU DON’T MIND

Daniel Meade and Lloyd Reid
IF YOU DON’T MIND
Self-Release

100 x More Country or Americana Than 99% of Albums That Claim To Be.

Daniel Meade and Lloyd Reid hail from the River Clyde Delta in the foothills of Olde Scotia and make some of the finest darn Country Music that your ears are ever likely to hear.
What more do you need to know?
I have spoken.
Oh! That’s not enough for you is it?
Well, this is the pairs umpteenth album together in what has been a very fluid career, combining big ole City Centre gigs with their band The Flying Mules and village halls across the UK in whatever other format was necessary.
No two gigs or albums are ever the same; but you always know that Daniel Meade’s exquisite singing voice and heartfelt songs will make you despair that you aren’t actually watching a world famous Star of the Opry; because that’s what he sounds like to me.
On to their latest release; and one that has been a long time in the making and one of the best things to come out of music’s Annus Horriblus; ‘Lockdown 2020’, which forced the duo to use modern technology in the most old fashioned manner to create a fairly simple production that makes these songs all come alive in a way that you can’t find in many studios.

There’s a melancholic late night Honky Tonk feeling to opening track If You Don’t Mind that makes you think back to the glorious days of Hank and George on the wireless. The harmonies are absolutely spot on and the story in Meade’s song hangs in the air long after it’s finished.
To the untutored ear this album would probably be classed as Old Time Country; but that is doing Meade’s songwriting a huge disservice; as his subject matter is invariably more contemporary than just about anything coming out of Nashville this century.
This certainly applies to It’s Hard To Be a Man These Days and the mad minute that is Give This World a Shake; although their arrangements and Lloyd Reid’s astonishing guitar runs are certainly Old School or more pertinently Classic Country in my book.
For only two people, Meade and Reid create a ‘big sound’; but we already know what a multi-talented musician Dan Meade is; and that comes to the fore with his Dooley Wilson style piano playing on the winsome heartbreaker Good Heart Gone Astray and a few songs earlier the rather jaunty and black humour of Mother of Mercy.
Everyone who buys this album is going to have a different Favourite Song, that’s for sure; as each will touch different people in different ways; again this is my way of saying that Daniel Meade is a very clever songwriter.
At present I’m torn between the Western Swing of Why You Been Gone So Long?
The dark and almost Gothic Sleeping on the Streets of Nashville, which will resonate with far too many musicians who travel to Music City with so much hope in their hearts, and almost always ends in tears.
The other; and what I’m actually selecting as my actual Favourite Song on a rather special album is ………. cue drum roll……… Choking on the Ashes (That I’ve Burned); a bonafide Country tearjerker with Everly Brothers style harmonies and while that’s the Twang we associate with Chet Atkins; I’m also hearing (not for the first time or last here) more than a smidgen of Jazz Master Barney Kessell in Lloyd’s mellifluous guitar runs.
If you are a fan of Country Music, or even Americana you are going to absolutely love this album; but the sad part is that because Daniel Meade and Lloyd Reid don’t play the ‘corporate game’ IF YOU DON’T MIND isn’t likely to feature in any Awards ceremonies at the end of the year; yet it is 100 x more Country or Americana than 99% of the albums that will.

Go on; treat yourself.

Released September 18th 2020
BUY DON’T SPOTIFY
https://danielmeade.bandcamp.com/album/if-you-dont-mind

https://apple.co/2Yk3r9W


JOSH RITTER See Here, I Have Built You A Mansion

Josh Ritter
See Here, I Have Built You A Mansion
Thirty Tigers

Hidden Gems Finally Unearthed For a Discerning and Astute Public.

I’ve received a Hell of a lot of albums and downloads over the last few months which are obviously from acts who still need to make a living, while the touring circuit has closed down.
Most have been ‘home recordings’ of Greatest Hits or the like, and while ‘worthy’ have generally been as dull as ditch water ……. sorry guys and girls; but they are.
On the other hand; a few, like this one are truly fascinating and aren’t just worthy of my time; but your money too; regardless of the reasons for their release.
Josh has delved into his back catalogue and coupled together an often charming, but always interesting bunch of songs that have hardly, if ever seen the light of day before.
The bouncy Time is Wasting starts the party in a way I don’t normally associate with the singer; snappy snare drum and a melody that will have a Roadhouse on its collective feet on a Tuesday night ……. what’s not to like? Ritter chose to resurrect it because the song itself, sort of reflects how many of us feel as the world looks like it’s spiralling out of control …… Don’t Worry about next week; enjoy today!
The next song, Haunt while still having a bright and sunny melody; the articulate words and metaphors are more in keeping with what little I know of Josh Ritter’s ‘oeuvre’; on a very clever song of unrequited love.
This and Heaven Knows; which follows comes from The Gathering Sessions (2017); and really hit the spot in a way you rarely hear in Americana or Alt. Country these days; and to think these songs weren’t even used!
Some of you will remember my review of Joan Baez’s Whistle Down The Wind album a couple of years ago; well it includes Ritter’s Be Of Good Heart; and he includes his own version here; and ……. well, it’s certainly different from Joan’s version; as you’d expect and ……. dare I say it; much more intimate, introspective and his voice sounds like its wrapped in tattered velvet making it even lovelier.
The all too short EP/LP closes quite dramatically with a live recording of one of the songwriter’s earliest compositions, Lawrence KS; and features a big ole crystal clear production and swirling Hammond B3; all perfectly capturing the hidden magic of all that has gone before.
For a bunch of songs that have lain dormant for years; there are some absolute stunners here; none more so than the two I’m torn between as Favourite Tracks; the almost Gothic and plaintive Miles Away, featuring even haunting Hammond alongside Ritter’s world weary voice; and which I’ve been drawn back to a couple of times recently as it’s somehow captured my ever dwindling mood quite perfectly.
Now; I always feel a tad guilty ‘liking’ a cover song when sung by a renowned singer-songwriter; but it was only as it was in the last verse that I realised that Brothers in Arms actually the same radio-friendly Dire Straits song that has become ever more tiresome over the years.
MAN! Josh Ritter manages to capture some kind of weird magic in Mark Knopfler’s words that I haven’t ever appreciated before. Perhaps it’s those Gothic keyboards I can hear, or the intricate mandolin (?) and acoustic guitar picking; or more likely the way Ritter delivers the words in such a delicate and tragically beautiful manner that has totally captured my heart.
I’m never particularly happy when acts tag on ‘extras’ to re-releases of albums; but in this format it really and truly works and is one of the very few good things that is going to come out of the 2020 Covid Plague; because without the need for an income stream, these songs would probably have remained lost forever.

PS
In response to COVID-19, Ritter’s weekly “Silo Sessions” lives-tream performance series has generated over $150,000 to date for various charities including Foodbank NYC, Win NYC and Feeding America.

Released August 28th 2020
https://www.joshritter.com/

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Grant Lee Phillips LIGHTNING SHOW US YOUR STUFF

Grant Lee Phillips
Lightning Show Us Your Stuff
Yep Roc

A Perfect Musical Storm For 2020

At face value I’ve never known how succesful Grant Lee Phillips has been across his long and varied career. His albums always get favourable reviews in the ‘heavy hitting’ music media; and the three albums I already own are all easily on a par with with anything I own by his contemporaries; yet I don’t think I know anyone else who owns them; and he hardly ever, if ever at all gets mentioned in Top 10’s or essays by esteemed and knowledgeable journalist types.
Perhaps we should refer to him as ‘under the radar’; but and you have to trust me here; that’s doing a great songwriter with a beautifully distinctive singing voice a huge disservice.
Now; I’ve got that off my chest ……. onto the music!
The first thing that caught my attention on the opening track, Ain’t Done Yet is the windswept melody, which somehow mixes a shuffling N’Orleans back-beat with some neat swinging Native American style drumming. Then of course there’s Phillips’ razor-sharp lyrics that are exactly what they say on the tin; he Ain’t Done Yet!
Like most, but not all of his previous releases; there’s a melancholic yet ‘laid back’ feel to the album; with Leave a Light On or Lowest Low and especially Coming To being the type of song for kicking the shoes off for, and just wallowing in the hidden depths to Phillips’ personal stories.
While very personal to him, songs like Lowest Low and Straight to The Ground will resonate with a great many people, especially in 2020.
I suppose finer and more articulate writers than myself would describe Mourning Dove (which I had originally logged as Mourning Dave!) and the Lo-Fi grunge-Gospel of Gather Up as being about the ‘human condition’; which I would heartily agree with, if I really knew what it meant. To me, they are both crackling good songs tear at the heartstrings when your not watching!
I first received this album 4 or 5 weeks ago; just at the end of ‘lockdown’ and played the hell out of it for three days; as it perfectly fit my mood – part relieved, part delirious and part reflective; and that’s where I’m going back to for the two songs I’m torn between for as my Favourite Tracks; the delicate and beautiful Sometimes You Wake Up in Charleston and Walking in My Sleep.
I doubt when Grant wrote these songs he knew that they would be played as a Global Plague was still terrorising the world; but they are and the piano and tsch-tsch drums on his Randy Newmanesque Sometimes You Wake Up in Charleston just captured my innermost feeling so perfectly as the pathos in his metaphorical tale seem to flit between real life and fantasy.
Walking In My Sleep, on the other hand is ‘definitive’ Grant Lee Phillips; swirling and strummed guitar shadowing his warm and road weary voice; as a pedal-steel occasionally drifts in and out like a prairie breeze on a Summers evening.
Obviously everyone hears different things in music; and Grant Lee Phillips may not agree with what I’ve said about some of his songs; but when his young daughter said “Come on lightning, show us your stuff!” neither he nor her realised the perfect musical storm that they were instigating; and it is just that.

Released 4th September 2020
https://www.grantleephillips.com/
BUY DON’T SPOTIFY.
Yep Roc https://yeproc.11spot.com/grant-lee-phillips-lightning-show-us-your-stuff-bundle.html

Bandcamp https://grantleephillips.bandcamp.com/album/lightning-show-us-your-stuff



ANNIE DRESSNER Coffee at the Corner Bar.

Annie Dressner
Coffee at the Corner Bar
Self-Released

The Latest of The True Believers, Songs of Love, Longing and Hope.

As is is our ‘modus operendi’ at RMHQ we only ever review music we actually like; but with so many new albums arriving each week not every album stands the test of time in the office; but Annie Dressner’s last release BROKEN INTO PIECES (2018) still gets irregular outings on the hi-fi; especially when my dark clouds are gathering;
https://rockingmagpie.wordpress.com/2018/10/09/annie-dressner-broken-into-pieces/
so when Annie herself, sent us a copy of this latest release I did my ‘Snoopy Happy Dance’ as I immediatly slid it into the stereo.
The fabulous single, NYACK opens the album and, my first thoughts were how much Annie’s voice is evolving into something akin to the young Nanci Griffith; and to some degree her songwriting and storytelling fills the gap sadly missed by Ms. Griffith’s apparent retirement.
I’m always loathe to use the word ‘sweet’ in my reviews, as it never sounds ‘cool’ or ‘edgy’ enough to describe the hard work and sweat that goes into writing and recording; but ‘sweet’ and ‘smile inducing’ were the first things I thought of when I first played Beyond The Leaves and her cover of The Magnetic Fields’ The Book of Love; and it’s still how I feel when I’m playing them again today ……. and it’s meant as a compliment.
While there were some dark edges to BROKEN INTO PIECES (it was meant to be a ‘break up’ album after all); and even though Annie sounds generally content in her relationship, but there are still some shadows blocking out the sun on Look What You Are Doing To Us and the illuminating Secrets, Tell Me Lies too; but that’s how real grown up relationships are; aren’t they.
While the arrangements and Annie’s voice are very easy on the ear; as you’d expect, but that occasionally masks some quite sharp observations on life, love and the human condition in Quiet and later, Out in The Cold which I have a feeling is going to be a ‘grower’ for me as it needs a lot more time for the story to really unravel.
I’m torn between two songs from the darker fringes for my Favourite Track; Midnight Bus immediatly caught my attention when I first heard it (well it would, as I’m a bus driver!) but, yet again Annie’s keen observations find a story where most others would miss it; and the other, Losing You closes the record; and is the type of ‘love song’ we all play as midnight dawns and there’s only the dregs left in the bottle ……… you know what I mean.
There’s something of a new maturity in not just Annie’s songwriting here; but the construction and production of each and every song too; which belies this being an Independent/Self-Release.
In another age Annie Dressner would be a Star on Warner’s or CBS or perhaps more pertinently Reprise; but the music biz is what it is in 2020; and it’s up to me and you to shout her name from the metaphorical rooftops until the rest of the world catches up with us.

Released Sept 4th 2020
http://www.anniedressner.com/
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https://anniedressner.bandcamp.com/


Emily Zuzik TORCH and TROUBLE

Emily Zuzik
Torch and Trouble
Maenades Music/Head Bitch Music

Sad Love, Flawed Characters, Edgy Subject Matter and Enough Twang to Sink a Battleship.

While we have our regular labels and PR Companies who supply RMHQ with New music on a very, very (too?) regular basis; it never stops being exciting when an act get in touch themselves; which is what happened here.
Now; the first mistake I made was thinking this was a very slick ‘debut album’; even though it was produced by friend of RMHQ Ted Russell Kamp; as the accompanying skimpy e-mail failed to mention Ms. Zuzik’s previous 14 (yes …. FOURTEEN) releases (albums, EP’S and singles) or her 2 album from her time in the delightfully named Alt. Country band Sex Fresh; nor her vocals on a Moby album or …… or ….. well; it’s fair to say Emily has had a long and reasonably succesful career before her music ended up on my stereo!
Onwards and upwards towards this newest release …….
The Country tinged Power Ballad Stay Wild opens the album in a way that means Ms. Zuzik ain’t taking no prisoners …. and it’s absolutely perfect for daytime radio in countries of all persuasions.
The LA native certainly mixes it up, with the ‘Blue Collar’ slow and sultry All That Love, showcasing Emily’s rich and dusky voice as it rips and tugs at the heartstrings, in a style reminiscent (to my ears) of a young Lucinda.
The singer certainly knows how to bring the words in these stories to life; especially so on the soulful love song, Magic and yet again during the emotionally brittle Wild Mustangs too.
Now I’m four hours into listening I think I’ve fallen in love with Emily Zuzik’s voice and especially her phrasing around the words and stories in Shadows and Get It Right; which occasionally drift aimlessly and evocatively into Cowboy Junkies territory.
There’s even a deliciously epic tale here too, The Band Plays On, which ends the album in almost cinematic fashion; and is highly recommended if you want to hear one song that typifies Emily Zuzik’s sophisticated stylings.
Selecting a Favourite Track has been a tad easier than I’d expected; although it’s a coin toss between two songs.
Even before I’d heard it; the title alone attracted me to Chinese Food and Donuts …… and it delivers faster than a Just Eat kid on a moped. A very clever song; which could easily have been a maudlin mess in lesser hands; but Ms Zuzik brings a freshness and stale beauty to this break-up song of the finest hue.
The other came to me later; as Trouble #1 is a left of centre surprise, mostly because it’s a ‘pedal to the metal’ Country Rocker that makes me want to hear a whole album like it.
So, which is the winner? Neither it’s a score draw!
I’m not sure which branch of Country Music to hang this album on, as there is certainly enough Twang and pathos to say much is Classic Country; yet the subject matter is quite edgy and the characters are all flawed in a way I associate with Alt.; so let’s hitch it to Americana or whatever we are calling it this week?
Whatever; this is an album I highly recommend.

Released 28th August 2020
http://www.emilyzuzik.com/
BUY DON’T SPOTIFY https://emilyzuzik.bandcamp.com/

Maple Run Band MAPLE RUN BAND

Maple Run Band
MAPLE RUN BAND
Black Pasture Music

A Little Bit Country, A Dollop of Americana, Add Some Alt. and a Whole Lotta Harmonies and Love ……….

As regular readers know we try to get reviews out in week preceding release; but that’s not always for a million reasons; and that means some minor gems can get lost …… for which we apologise.
This nearly fell into that category; as it was already out in the wild world when the band sent us a sweet e-mail with a download attached. Although I didn’t really have the time to listen properly last weekend; as other albums from ‘Big Names’ were on my schedule; yet there was ‘something’ that drew me in.
So; on the way home last night I skipped through the album in the car – 30 seconds here; 10 seconds there and …….. the result is the Maple Run Band have been on heavy rotation around RMHQ as I ate breakfast; and I’m now penning my words while looking at the clock before going to work at mid-day!
I haven’t had time to research the band and the Press Release doesn’t say if this is a debut album or not; but that’s no matter …….. what I do know is that Maple Run Band are a quartet from Vermont and they just love Country Music in all its glory from Bluegrass through to Alt. and back again!
You’re Gonna Make Me Cry Again opens like a whirlwind; with Trevor Crist sounding all Travis Tritt as he implores his young lady not to leave him or she will make him cry for the very first time since Johnny Cash died.
Clever, huh? And it’s a proper Honky-Tonk toe tapper too.
Already; I love the way the band use ‘space’ on their songs; allowing the words and, indeed music to fill your senses without over powering you.
For a Country song, Ma Bell has a hefty dose of spice to the maudlin words and slow, waltz like tune. It’s a sad song at heart of course; but Crist and drummer Nicole Valour’s harmonies take you on a ghostly journey worthy of not just Gram and Emmylou but the Handsome Family too.
With that in mind I love the way Maple Run Band can squeeze the hell out of your heart one minute then crank the pace up a song later; which is what happens here as Independence Day, which follows is a rare doozy and is bound to be a 10 minute jam when played live.
When I discover new acts I always imagine what type of venue would suit them best; but with these crazy kids I can picture them playing Catch You Down The Line and Keep On Truckin’ in the bawdiest Roadhouse Bar West of the Mississippi and Engine, Engine #9 in a tent at a Bluegrass Festival, while Queen of Labrador City and You’ve Got a Warrant Out (On My Affection) are surely destined for the Ryman Theatre and if not, perhaps The Sage in Gateshead during #SummerTyne!
But all three (and more) are suitable for all three types of venue.
I’ve been stumped for what to choose as a Favourite Song, as each is as inherently different, which sounding like first generation offspring at the same time ………. the grungy guitars on Borderline have drawn me back a couple of times; as has Lost Bird with its luscious harmonies, shimmering cymbals and haunting cello (from Nelson Caldwell) but I’m being drawn back to Last of The West Kansas Cowboys; because who among us doesn’t like a Cowboy Song?
A tearjerker, more in the mould of Willie Nelson than Toby Kieth, that’s for sure and the harmonies that compliment Crist’s quivering vocals are quite sublime; so Last of The West Kansas Cowboys is the RMHQ Favourite Track (I think).
I’ve had to ‘bump’ a review of an album by a household name in the Blues World to listen to and then write this review; which should tell you something about the quality of songs and playing here; but that’s what the RMHQ is all about; unearthing new music that you may not find elsewhere …… and this is well worth trying; thank me later.

Released 31st July 2020
https://www.maplerunband.com/
BUY DON’T SPOTIFY.
https://maplerunband.bandcamp.com/album/maple-run-band


KAREN JONAS The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams.

Karen Jonas
The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams
(Goldrush Records)

Beautiful and Richly Retailed Vignettes of the Duality of American Life

“The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams” marks Karen Jonas’ first recording with a settled band; and the interplay and development of a clear, strong sound allied to Jonas’ sharp songwriting permeates this release.
“The Last Cowboy (at the Bowling Alley),” which opens with Latin guitar flourishes against a solid danceable back-beat tells of the “King of the Yucca Valley” and – like Paul Le Mat’s John in American Graffiti – he’s found himself left behind by the times …. and the “glory’s gone”.

“Out in Palm Tree Paradise” also deals with good times gone – dynamic stops and starts and tasteful guitar licks punctuate a tale of love been and gone and the mixed feelings that such moments generate.
The tempo picks up a little on “Tuesday” with the richly-detailed tale of dreams thwarted by apathy and the messy detritus of an ordinary life punctuated only by excitement of the odd night out.
“Pink Leather Boots” adopts a more sultry gentle Rockabilly feel and takes the listener out on such a night out where dreams are again not to be – to a strip club where our hero fantasises about his future with the dancing girl in the eponymous “Pink Leather Boots” where the incongruity of the setting and his desires tells us it’s doomed to fail – if anything even happens outside his head.
This difference between reality and expectation is further explored in “Maybe You’d Hear Me Then” where the song’s character – a disillusioned housewife asks:
is this the real world
or is it all just in my head?
set to an arrangement and lyrical that is reminiscent of “The River” era Springsteen.
Musically, “Be Sweet To Me” is another Rockabilly romp, but lyrically the disconnect between what we want and what we get is still there
got your hair slicked back like you’re James Dean
but you care more about your hair than me
we all know how that ends…
“Farmer John” isn’t the old Garage-Rock standard, but a tale of a relationship gone badly wrong.
The prison song bluesy backing and detail of an old dingy kitchen and the insects that live in it add to the sense of menace as the character waits for her partner’s return.
Another relationship gone wrong is on display in “Barely Breathing” and again it’s the falling way of excited first feelings and the revelation of dull reality in contrast that leaves the song’s protagonist “barely breathing” – matters which arise on the penultimate track “Better Days” where Jonas’ Amanda Shires-esque vocal phrasings tell of a deep confessional chat
you know I firebombed my life a long time ago
and asks
why do I need these pills just to be OK”.
The album ends with the gorgeously melodic melancholy of “Don’t Blink Honey” which takes a hard-nosed and realistic view of life
you work your whole damn life and still you never win
it’s a losing game, you know, a losing game”.
The disconnect between the sky-blue Southern sky dreaming and the nature of reality that winds its way through all this album in a highly literate and musical manner creates a riveting anthology of tales and tunes. With mature, developed writing and playing like this, Karen Jonas will soon by moving more towards sparkling dreams and further away from the humdrum reality she paints in sharp focus.
It’s always a good sign when an artist you hadn’t heard of makes you want to explore their back catalogue – and that’s exactly what I need to do now after hearing “The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams”

Review by Nick Barber
Released UK & EU 28th 2020
http://www.karenjonasmusic.com/
Buy Don’t Spotify


Mickelson DROWNING IN AN INFLATABLE POOL

Mickelson
Drowning In An Inflatable Pool
Independent

Sex Pistols Influenced Angry Folk Rock For a Trumpian Society?

I’ve always been that guy ‘forever on the search for something new’, to hear something previously unknown to my ears, and then be totally blown away by it.
Sadly, this doesn’t happen enough, in my opinion.
In the past it was learning of a band mentioned by a musician in an interview:
“Wait, who’s that they’re talking about?
Then searching the record stores until you find it.
Or seeing an unknown opening act that totally blows away the headliner. Sometimes it was coming across an album with an interesting cover image and buying it based on that alone. Crazy – I know; but fun though.
Nowadays, it’s being asked to listen to an album in order to write a review of it—and every now and then, one of those albums hits you just right and you listen to it more times than you really need to, in order to give it a write up.
(#We call that – playing an album for fun! Ed)
I’d never heard of the artist who goes by the name of Mickelson before, but I am now gleefully jumping into his back catalog, looking for more gems. With Mickelson’s baritone voice, no-nonsense attitude, and fearless songwriting, this album is a definite contender for the soundtrack to an off-Broadway play about the dissolving of society amidst totalitarian regimes. Mickelson himself claims this album is a response to the Trump era of American politics, and yes, I can hear that, but for me this album comes off as less of a folk-rock protest (ala Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, etc.) and (bizarrely) more like the Sex Pistols with their songs “Problems” or “Holidays in the Sun” in that Mickelson acknowledges there’s a problem, yet he’s unsure of the answers to those problems, but he does know that he can not continue on the way things are currently going, as his world is tail-spinning relentlessly out of control, and his mind is going with it.
So he might as well hoot and holler all the way down.
The Mekons, Straight Line Arrival, Pere Ubu, Jimmy Cliff, John Murry, and more have all gone down this route, so Mickelson is in damn fine company here.
The ear worm opening track, “Jagged Tooth,” hits the road running, like a man thrown out of a moving car; no time to look back at broken promises or who’s closing in, you just keep on running.
I was doing my best to tell you the truth,
but every time,
cut my tongue on this jagged tooth
,”
he declares, not really apologizing, just laying it out.
Just the facts, ma’am.”
This feeling continues on throughout the entire album, a miasma of relentlessness and many nights of restless sleep, a barely remembered dream nagging at the back of your skull as you run scared through the daylight hours, waiting for night and a chance to hide your head, until you can do it all over again.
“No Translation for No,” “Odd Man Out,” “Drowning In An Inflatable Pool,” “The Lockdown,”are the song titles themselves and read like chapter titles in a book of dark speculative fiction by Harlan Ellison or Kelly Link, daring you to not look away until they’ve burned themselves into your soul.
I’m also really digging the next to last tune, “Only the Wicked Run,” which features a more pared down production, mostly banjo and voice.
He Mickelson’s tired of running; yet still keeping his eyes peeled for an escape route—Hell, ANY escape route!
It’s the last song here, a recorded live warts and all track called “Flickering,” which utilizes all the disparate ingredients from the previous seven songs and makes them work admirably.
A showcase for Mickelson to prove he can successfully pull off this album live, or a last minute addition that just had to be on here, no matter what? Either way, it fits, the banjo being the engine that keeps the whole thing moving, the horn blasts punctuating throughout, Mickelson’s voice like a more mid-western Springsteen, and I swear I hear more than just a smattering of “modern country singer” in Mickelson’s style of vocal delivery. Dwight Yoakum on punk steroids? Brad Paisley sitting in with the Who? (Yeah, I really am that damn crazy.)
Mickelson pleads and wails his way through the song while the rhythm section clears his path.
I’m digging the choice of harmonica, horns, and banjo on several of these tunes. Who needs over saturated and fey guitar solos when you have so many more choices out there?
Not Mickelson, fearless, feral, headstrong, and ready to gnaw off his own foot if that’s what it takes to make a statement worthy of your attention. And hey, if that’s too gory for you, check out the music video for the song “Jagged Tooth” with charming animation by Nemo ……. Mickelson’s head is in a jar, singing and playing harmonica with a kick ass band.
Strange, yes, but somehow all that works to his advantage and makes him a bit more approachable.
Yeah, he’s serious about his songs, which are his messages to us through the ether, but he’s winking back at us at the same time.
We’re all in this together, so we might as well have some fun while we can.

Review courtesy The Legendary Roy Peak.
Released US July 24th 2020
Released Europe 15th August 2020

Buy Don’t Spotify
http://www.mickelsonmusic.com/

Victor Camozzi BLACK DOG

Victor Camozzi
BLACK DOG
Volcano Records

The Painful and Beautiful End Of Country Heartbreak and Heartache.

You should know us here at RMHQ by now; we love music in all shapes and sizes; but best of all it’s discovering the ‘rusty gold’ that normally lies in the shadows, but deserves its time in the spotlight as much as a Million Selling Star from Tinsel Town.
Such an act is Victor Camozzi; who sounds like he’s had one Helluva Life and with even a shred of common sense should have given this malarkey up by now and got a proper job.
But, as he says when he paraphrases Townes Van Zandt:
I do this, not for the sake of shaking my ass or trying to be a Star…it’s the song, man. It’s just the song.
And, #Spoiler Alert …….. if I’m any judge of an album, the world is a better place because of the songs on this album being in circulation.
Even the album title appealed to me, Black Dog was the expression Winston Churchill used to describe his depression; then a cursory flick through the song titles gave the impression that this wasn’t going to rubbing shoulders with The Chicks or Taylor Swift in Walmart!
Opening track Broken Hearts Roll sets the scene quite perfectly; a fabulous backing melody with occasional stinging electric guitar licks support a voice that sounds like it’s been through the emotional ringer more than once; on a tightly wrapped song that sounds like he romantically believes there still will be light at the end of the tunnel.
Phew ……. track #2 Jar Full of Tears is the type of droll tearjerker that I’ve been waiting for both Steve Earle and even Mary Gauthier to write for years; but even they can’t conjure up the sad imagery that Victor manages with consummate ease.
Personally I hope these songs have been written over a few years; because the pain that virtually bleeds out of See You In My Dreams and The Wrong Thing At The Right Time or more especially the saddest song Hank never wrote; Even The Whiskey would surely be too much for one man to take from one woman, wouldn’t it?
You should understand that these songs aren’t for blasting out of the car hi-fi; these are so personal they need the comfort of a big armchair in a room with the light fading into darkness to get the best out of them; and if you haven’t already got a broken heart of your own; you will when you hear Camozzi fighting back the tears himself when he sings See You In My Dreams and more pertinently The Good Times.
The title track Black Dog as as dark and miserable as you’d expect ….. or in my case, hope for. The brave way Camozzi describes these most innermost feelings is as brave as it is beautiful ……. just don’t expect to hear this song on the radio; even Leonard Cohen fans will think it a bit too sad for public consumption …….. but I know it’s a song I will come back to time and time again.
Bring your own tissues and wine.
Camozzi’s songwriting is ‘up there’ with the best of his generation IMHO, which brings me to the two songs I’m debating between for my accolade of Favourite Song ………. the razor sharp Ride at Dawn which sounds a bit like Kris Kristofferson singing Tom Russell after a night out with Willie and Cash; and the other; which is the type of song any songwriter can sit back and re-read and be extremely proud of; Horses I Won’t Ride.
I’ve listened to it on the office stereo several times; but actually cried the first time I played it through headphones ……. man; can Victor Camozzi write a sad song and make it as beautiful as a dusty desert rose.
This is Victor’s fourth album; but his first in six years; and if there is any justice at all in the crazy world of American Music will be the one that turns the corner for him; but I don’t know the effect that these songs will have on him singing them 5 nights a week on a World Tour.

Released 4th July 2020
https://victorcamozzimusic.com/home

Bobbie Gentry THE DELTA SUITE

Bobbie Gentry
The Delta Suite
UMC

A Great Lost Album Re-Visited and Brought Right Up To Date.

While I consider myself a Bobbie Gentry fan, in line with 99% of other like minded people; that means I own a couple of copies of her Greatest Hits.
Which makes listening to a whole album of ‘none singles’ a bit of a challenge …….. but one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
The Delta Suite is a bit of an oddity in many ways; first of all it was recorded and released less than a year after Bobbie’s debut album ‘broke the charts’; it’s a ‘concept album’ and ain’t nothing like what came before it; and bare little resemblance to much anything I own from her peers around that same period.
The songs are all still; definitively Bobbie Gentry; but here played in the correct order tell a ‘story’ about the people that surround young Ms. Gentry; but instead of ‘Good Ole Boy’ Country melodies; the arrangements here are more orchestral and often full of ‘sweeping strings’ instead of a pedal-steel or fiddle.
Prepared?
I hope so.
The first of the two albums are the new Stereo re-mixes; and starts with Okolona River Bottom Band; and once you get past the ‘new sound’ and the demonic cackle from Shorty Rogers that comes and goes like Summer lightning; Bobbie’s sultry voice carries you into strange new paths; albeit in well charted territory; and it sets the cinematic mood for what is to follow.
Because you are expected to sit back and listen to Bobbie’s ‘story’ it’s not that easy to select individual songs; as very few, if any actually sound like prospective singles ………. but they invariably sound wonderful in this context; moving said story along.
Now I’ve got my head around this album; this version of THE DELTA SWEETE and DUSTY IN MEMPHIS; to my befuddled mind sound like peas from the same pod.
None more so than Morning Glory, Refractio and the Seventh Son; which have all remarkably stood the test of time, while at the time must have left the Label ‘suits’ tearing their hair out!
On the re-mixed Album #1 a couple of songs do stand out; none more so than Louisiana Man which is the most ‘traditional’ song here; and the harmonica laced Big Boss Man, too, which I may actually have heard before ……. but that may be my mind playing tricks on me.
While the Classic Tobacco Road makes an appearance of course (the original mono version is exceptional) my Favourite Track though; and this comes back to the strength of the songwriting as much as it does Bobbie Gentry’s silky smooth and emotion drenched voice; is Mississippi Delta (Alternate version) which rocks like shrimp boat in a storm and leaves you thinking about all of the current crop of Alt. Country poppettes who try their darnedest to sound like this; but miss the target that Bobbie Gentry keeps hitting with consummate ease.

I’m not sure why the original MONO (DEMO) versions are included as a second album; as it’s the new versions that you are intended to buy; but the originals are so very different, yet ever more beautiful and intricate in their simple ragged and slightly tarnished glory it’s more than likely that this will be what you are listening to in 10 years time.

Released July 31st 2020
http://bobbiegentry.org.uk/
#BuyDontSpotify