Scott H Biram
Truly Authentic Soul Cleansing Country-Blues Rises From the Swamps.
Apparently this release came out of the blue as much for the record label as for music fans.
While I understand the Taylor Swift’s of this world needing to plan album releases months and years in advance; but for the likes of Scott H Biram and his fans; anytime is a good time …….. and with the current state of the world as 2020 grinds to an end like a ’67 Mustang on one brake pad; perhaps this is the right time?
With the Reverend Biram you never know quite what to expect; and here opening track Fever Dreams is a lot less ‘fire and brimstone’ than some of his more recent releases but as the title suggests; is intense, sweaty and quite oppressive in many ways; and his guitar picking alternates between scratchy and sublime ……. yep; he’s still on form in every way.
Like the rest of us I guess Scott would like a modicum of fame and fortune; but it will only come when the world and more importantly, the Music Industry ‘gets on board’ his three wheeled wagon; as his idea of ‘commercial’ – Single Again, Hallelu and the raggedly beautiful Can’t Stay Long sadly, won’t ever bother the Grammy Board….. and my world is a whole better place because of that.
Even other Blues/Folk singers in this idiom tend to have a format that they follow; not so Scott Biram …….. that last song, Can’t Stay Long is the best song Johnny Cash never recorded; but it’s followed by the fearsome Psych-Cowpunk of Drunk Again … I imagine the reverential crowds at his gigs will take a step back when he plays it live; in case the sparks from his guitar set fire to their Souls!
Never ‘Easy Listening’ and nor is it meant to be; songs like Whatcha Gonna Do and Chickens will scare the Bejasus out of most people who hear them; but others will whisper the word ‘genius’ with absolutely no irony at all; such is the effect this cat has on music fans.
With such an eclectic; or should that be erratic collection of songs it’s been mighty difficult to choose a Favourite; although I seem to have narrowed the runners and riders down to three; and they couldn’t be more different from each other if he tried; and I guess he did.
Biram even finds time to include a fairly (by his standards) straight-edged instrumental with Can’t Stay Gone (Goodnight From the Highway), but I worry if I play it backwards at 45RPM it will actually be a Strauss composition …. heeheeheehee.
Hobo Jungle is a ‘love song’ but not in the Frank Sinatra way; this is both rustic and rusty and sums up many of our feelings in a whole new way.
Monkey David Wine is ……. I’m not sure actually; but channel the Mekons through Lynard Skynard and RL Burnside then listen after a night on the beer and it might all make sense; until then just turn it up to 11 and forget all of your woes.
The last of the trio is Everything Just Slips Away, a haunting Country-Blues that sounds like it’s risen right out of the Swamp at midnight under a full moon and, as of its melancholic beauty I’m saying this is and will be my Favourite Song here … for now.
With this release only arriving a couple of days ago I probably haven’t had time to digest absolutely everything here; but my gut reaction is is that even though Biram somehow channels every musical genre from Punk to Metal via Country at one time or another; I think the overall album is a direct descendent from Robert Johnson and Leadbelly ……. this is the Blues in every shape, form and heartbeat; and while it’s as far from being a Christmas record as you can get; it may be what we need to cleanse our Souls as this horrendous year finally peters out.
Released November 27th 2020
BUY DON’T SPOTIFY