The Ghost of Paul Revere

Left Field Lo-Fi Americana Full of Light and Shade.

While the stable this album came from knows my tastes better than most; and only sends things they ‘know’ I will like; it’s still somehow sat around the RMHQ Office waiting patiently for my attention, without ever wondering why I’ve listened to something much more ordinary.
But yesterday; the day after release …. I did play it and ……. WOW ….. WOOooooooSH and indeed WOWSER!
It quite took my breath away.
As is my won’t, the first track on a new album has to catch my attention for me to carry on listening …… and Good at Losing Everything, with it’s Gospelish opening; a stunning banjo retort and a singer who sounds like he’s only stopped crying seconds before entering the studio almost took my breath away.
Of course it’s a sad song; check the title out …… but the way the words are delivered make it brittley beautiful in a tattered and tragic kind of way.
I’m five hours into the album now and while The Ghost of Paul Revere aren’t quite as Alt. Country as I’d first thought; they are the epitome of Lo-Fi Americana in the way the songs tell their intimate and romantic (with a small r) stories of the people that inhabit their world.
Check out One of These Days or Diving Bell to hear what I’m talking about; and even the quirky arrangements on Travel On fit that bill too.
My copy doesn’t tell me who sings what; but all three core members (Max Davis [banjo], Sean McCarthy [bass], and Griffin Sherry [guitar] all appear to take the lead at one time or another; and when they harmonise …….. #swoon.
I’d not heard of them before picking up this CD; but it appears the band were first formed in 2011 and have released a couple of albums and EP’s; but also racking up millions of ‘streams’ across the various Interweb services; an apprenticeship which all comes together (I suppose) to maturely gel on the likes of Loneliness and Love at Your Convenience; which could easily both have been quite makish in lesser hands; but here are both powerful and insightful; while also getting your heart to pump a little faster without you knowing it.
While many of their peers find a particular musical automatic gear and away they go; The Ghost of Paul Revere somehow crank through the manual gears; offering light and shade from track to track and occasionally; in the case of Two Hundred and Twenty Six Days and Delirare; inside an individual song, which is a clever trick to pull off.
Just when you think you’ve got a handle on them; The Ghost of Paul Revere throw a curve ball by infusing string sections, looping, and adding a mellotron into the ‘interludes’ ’28:27′ and the outro ‘We Were Born Wild.’
As is the case these days;it’s no longer important to desperately try to write a Hit (i.e Commercial) Song; which gives writers like these guys the freedom to just follow their heart; which brings me to my choice of Favourite Song; the punchy harmonica laden, When Can I See You Again?
There’s more than a hint of Chicago Blues in the melody; but take a step back and you can imagine The Band; or more aptly, Levon Helm rasping out a glorious version in an outtake from the Lat Waltz.
Without having heard their back catalogue; I can still imagine that a gig from The Ghost of Paul Revere will be an event well worth catching.

Released November 27th 2020



The Lost Notes
Lowlifes and High Times

West Coast Americana Straight Outta the English Midlands.

Five piece band, The Lost Notes hail from deepest Moseley in Birmingham, England; but judging from the harmonies and song structures on this, their second release, their hearts are torn between home and the Western and Southern states of America.
Opener “Pieces of a Star” sets the musical tone with twinkling guitar and high register harmonies that Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fans will lap up. “Holding on” then continues the West-Coast flavour with its pastoral imagery, shifting tempos and a very catchy melody, so much so you can almost smell the patchouli!
“All Born Free” with its “ba-ba-ba-da” Mary Travers-esque vocals sounds like it’s emerged from some lost 60’s vault of Laurel Canyon outtakes – glorious summery music, with some superb latin-flavoured guitar too. Things move into waltz time with “A Fool Once Told Me” which lyrically is less generic than the opening tracks and all the better for it, with some great quirky hat imagery (yes, really!) and nice melodic minor shifts too. There’s more jazzy Spanish guitar on “Done With the Waiting,” which marks the Lost Notes as musical soulmates of Californians Mapache.
“Still I Come” starts off with a brushed train beat and a gentle Country twang that wouldn’t be out of place hearing while driving in an open top down the California west-coast highway.
“I’ll Just Hold You” takes things down a gentle notch with its compassionate lyrics and three part harmonies, before a New Orleans marching beat leads into “I Got Time,” which uses different vocal parts to create effective dynamics.
“Glory Days” is almost opposite in tone to its Springsteen namesake, being a lightly melancholic nostalgic character song reflection.
Lucy Mills’ vocal is shown to good effect on the jazzier “Nobody’s Fool” which also shows off fine guitar work from the chaps in the band!
(the epk didn’t say who played what – sorry!)
There’s a serious message to end things in a joyous song “Goodbye Yesterday,” which is an eco-anthem which has its Marrakesh Express moments in feel and use of harmony for emphasis.
There are a couple of bonus tracks too – an acoustic remix of “All Born Free” and a piano remix of “I’ll Just Hold You,” both of which offer slightly mellower takes on earlier tracks – in the case of “I’ll Just Hold You”, the remix probably wouldn’t have slotted into the feel of the rest of the album, but as a standalone track is possibly the better of the two versions, especially in the way the piano adds extra poignancy to the sentiments of the song.
It’s clear to see why The Lost Notes are a popular live act on the Folk circuit – their versatility, dynamics, proficiency and energy is clear; the challenge for a good live band is to translate that sound and feel into recorded form – on “Lowlifes and High Times” the Lost Notes hit several peaks where their more ‘off the wall’ lyrics and ideas pair with their joyfully melancholic folkie Americana sound to create something that fits in amongst peers like the aforementioned Mapache, Fleet Foxes, The Nude Party and older soulmates like Fairport Convention, Beechwood Sparks and the aforementioned CSN&Y.
Forget the Laurel Canyon sound – this is the Balti Triangle sound….

Review by Nick Barber
Released 5th December 2020

Ben Glover SWEET WILD LILY (ep)

Ben Glover
Sweet Wild Lily (EP)
Proper Records

A Storyteller of the Finest Hue, Using the Medium of Music to Reel the Listener In.

Good luck to Northern Irish singer-songwriter Ben Glover, who has made quite the name for himself in recent years as a ‘go to’ co-songwriter; most notably with the delectable Gretchen Peters; but a multitude of others too.
But …… and this is a very personal ‘but’ …… I just wish that fame and (hopefully) fortune had come via his own solo work; because it certainly deserves it.
He’s been a busy lad in the last few years; meaning this Four Track release is his first since SHOREBOUND in 2018; and has been a very welcome surprise at RMHQ this week.
The ever so delicate and charming title track Sweet Wild Lily opens the proceedings in a timeless and almost haunting manner. Glover’s distinctive voice aches with longing as he tells the tale of lost love; or is it just plain unrequited as the target of his admirations treads her very own path that doesn’t always include him.
Without reading the accompanying Press Release; I’m not sure if I’ve heard Arguing With Ghosts before; it certainly sounds as if I should have, if I haven’t*. Written alongside the enigmatic Matraca Berg; Colm McLean’s shimmering guitar makes an already haunting tale almost frightening in it’s delivery.
A little part of me was hoping that Broke Down would be Slaid Cleaves’ song of the same name; but nope, it’s actually a Glover/Gretchen Peters song; and as Country as I’ve ever heard Ben; courtesy of a nascent banjo/pedal-steel combo in the background ……. but it will be his stinging words what you remember hours and even days afterwards.
This only leaves the single Fireflies Dancing to tell you about. But that’s not as easy as you’d imagine.
Put simply; this is one of the finest and deepest songs I’ve heard this year – and I’ve heard a lot.
A relatively simple production and arrangement masks a song that I’m 99% sure is destined for numerous Country/Americana albums in the next few years; sometimes sung solo alongside an old acoustic guitar and also when it’s almost unrecognisable with a big ole rocking band and a singer in a Trucker cap and Redwings; and it lends itself to everything in between too.
Ben Glover is first and foremost a storyteller of the finest hue, one who uses the medium of music to reel the listener in; and he does it like an age old Irish Mystic.

*Doh!! Of course Arguing With Ghosts is the opening track on Gretchen Peters’ DANCING WITH THE BEAST from 2018!

Released November 13th 2020


DAVE ALVIN From an Old Guitar (Unreleased Recordings).

From an Old Guitar (Unreleased Recordings).
Yep Roc Records

Long Lost Americana Gems Rescued For Posterity.

It’s over 40 years since The Blasters first propelled the Alvin Brothers onto the world stage; predominantly revolving around elder brother Phil the main vocalist and brother and lead guitarist, Dave. The brother’s explosive relationship is well documented; and eventually the younger sibling eventually split from the band in 1986 to pursue his own more singular career.
Since then Dave Alvin has provided a plethora of musical options for his fans and thankfully the two things that have remained constant, over the decades, is the quality of the music and that wonderful deep, dark baritone voice.

As a singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and a more than willing collaborator he has few equals.
So, in 2020, with the world in the depths of a weird and scary pandemic, filling recording studios with human players and knob twiddlers has become nigh on impossible.
What’s a creative boy to do?
Well, if you’re Dave Alvin you have a look at your library of past recordings that, for one reason or another, were left off previous releases; and you also consider tracks that furnished various tributes etc. and then pull them together into a mighty fine 16 track album.
It’s no-where near a potentially unbalanced hotchpotch, it’s not even an incongruous collection, it just bloomin’ well works as a ‘complete ALBUM’ in its own rite.
If you know anything about Dave Alvin then his humble, self-deprecating approach to life and especially to his music has always been with his feet firmly on the ground, remaining staunchly modest whilst delivering continual, persistent, high-grade, end product.

From an old Guitar and Unreleased Recordings has 13 sublime cover versions and 3 self-penned numbers, cutting across various genres. Additionally, there’s an unbelievable array of guest contributors, including some much loved friends who are sadly no longer with us.
The lead track sets the tone with a Chris Smither cover, “Link of Chain” followed by Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” which had been a pre-release teaser single.
Lil’ Hardin Armstrong’s “Perido Street Blues” and Earl Hooker’s “Variations on Earl Hooker’s Guitar Rhumba” are both absolutely first class, rousing instrumentals and well worthy of inclusion.
On My Way Downtown,” from the pen of Peter & Joshua Case features two of the unfortunately departed, with Amy Farris’ violin and Chris Gaffney’s accordion helping provide a somewhat Celtic sound, which you don’t normally associate with Dave Alvin.

Wyman Reese adds a beautiful, restrained piano on the cover of Bill Morrisey’s “Inside,” whilst Gaffney tinkles the ivories, as well as adding accordion, on the prolific Bob McDill’s “Amanda,” which happened to be the eighth number one country hit for Waylon Jennings back in 1974.
As you might expect, the tempo increases on the cover of Link Wray’s “Albuquerque,” where Alvin himself delivers some fine wah-wah guitar. Obviously, the Blues come to the fore whenever anyone covers a Willie Dixon song, and Dave’s low pitched voice convincingly projects the lyrics of “Peace,” which are just as relevant today as they were when Dixon recorded the original almost 50 years ago.
You make a deaf man hear and a dumb man speak,
but It don’t make sense if you can’t make peace

If I had to choose a favourite track then two contenders jump out.
Firstly, one of Alvin’s own compositions, the third instrumental called “Crazy and Ignatz” which just has Alvin strummin’ his trusty 1934 National Steel Duolian Guitar paired with some superb Dobro from one of his hugely talented Guilty Women, Cindy Cashdollar.
However, just easing it out and into my actual top-spot is a lively version of Mickey Newbury’s “Mobile Blue,” which has one of the weirder starts you’ll ever hear, with Bill Frisell’s backwards guitar intro.

Currently there are some fine new releases by artists recording basic and simple albums, often re-interpreting their Greatest Hits in the comfort of their own home studio.
Modern technology has made this eminently possible for almost everyone. Clearly, not an option chosen by Dave Alvin.
Here’s the puzzler though; if many of these songs were deemed unsuitable for previous albums, then we all should promptly re-visit his esteemed catalogue of work to re-affirm just how marvellous and pleasurable a musician he is.
Thank goodness these beauties have been rescued from the cutting room floor and packaged into a well balanced and extremely entertaining album that I am personally struggling to take off the CD player.

Jack Kidd – “Messin’ with the Kidd” on

Released on 20th. November 2020

Los Brujos ALCHEMY

Los Brujos
Inseam Records

Honest, Sincere and Heartfelt Contemporary Country Rock.

Some albums seemingly come out of nowhere to kick you in the ‘feelings department’; and the debut EP, Alchemy by a duo calling themselves Los Brujos does just that. There is nothing earth-shattering or soul-changing about these five songs but I think that just may be the point.
What we do get is a bunch of simple Country Rock tunes with simple and sweet arrangements, like we may have heard decades ago when rock was still figuring out what it was all about.
There’s threads of early CSN&Y here, as well as Sweetheart of the Rodeo era Byrds, and even a smattering of Neil Young too, but I’m also hearing the band Cowboy, and a touch of those indie-darlings of the 1990s, Ida, (raise your hands if you know that one!) in these heartfelt songs.
Modern indie hipster bands take note: Often it is the sincerity of your music that grabs a listener, not just those vintage guitars and microphones you record with.
Los Brujos (not the Argentine band with the same name, these cats hail from those United States of America) is Chuck Melchin, who also fronts the alt-country band Bean Pickers Union, and Michael Spaly, who heads up the folk–bluegrass-psychedelic jam band Green Monroe.
Los Brujos is Spanish for a group of sorcerers or wizards and Melchin and Spaly live up to their name in that their magic is a simple, yet powerful one that draws you in with repeated listens.
The opening track, “Reckoning,” is a haunting ghost story full of creaks and mournful harmonies that will help you get through the next stage of this lousy pandemic.
Both “Bronco” and “Everything I Can” benefit from the addition of Carla Ryder, from the band the Mudhens, on background vocals.
You can change your hobbies,
you can change your friends,
you can change anything,
but you’ll never lose that chain that’s around your neck,

they sing in “High Times” which hasever more wonderful interplay between a mandolin and fiddle and some great vocalizing too,as the two of them trade lines soulfully back and forth throughout.
“Bitter Blue” ends out the EP with a hook played on guitar and fiddle that’ll make you sit up and take notice, and an understated chorus you’ll find yourself singing along with, with right off the bat.
Heading out of town, my problems disappear,”
they sing as the fiddle takes a left turn and leads the song off into the sunset.
Is this EP the first sign of an upcoming album of more Los Brujos magic? This reviewer certainly hopes so.

Released November 6th 2020
Review: The Legendary Roy Peak

Billie Holiday BILLIE (Original Soundtrack)

Billie Holiday
Billie (Original Soundtrack)

A Tragic Life That Glitters and Glows Through Song.

When I was first approached about the review for this soundtrack it was accompanied with the words from Rocking Magpie himself; ‘this might be your first review of someone you haven’t ever seen live!’
– clearly an ageist remark suggesting I was really, really old (I am, but ……)!
Actually I could have seen her live, as I was 13 when she sadly died back in 1969 but taking into account her life and very sad story that would have been extremely unlikely!
There is a tendency to think that tragic stories in the music industry like the life/death of Amy Whitehouse have only ever been relatively recent; but the stories of black artists such as Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday were almost commonplace 100 or more years ago; back in the period before WWI and even after WW2.
Billie Holiday was still performing in the mid 1950’s, with one track here being a live performance from NYC’s Carnegie Hall in 1956, recorded as the likes of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and a certain Mr Presley we’re tearing up the hit parades with their Sun Records recordings.
It is a sign of Ms. Holiday’s position in Big Band music etc. that she was still headlining the bill against the newer, racier competition.
Sadly, three years later she had succumbed to illness.
Without seeing the film it is impossible to imagine where these tracks will appear, and in what context
Naturally the one song of hers that everyone knows, Strange Fruit is included; and here it really does make you think about the furore it must have caused when it was first released, as it’s a song about a lynching and sung by a major black artist. This was so sensitive that her label would not release it, only for another label to do so and it has became her best selling track of all time.
The bands (and the band leaders) she sung with, roll off the tongue like a Who’s Who of musical legends and the soundtrack includes a true mixture of bluesy and traditional tracks, with ‘ I Only Have Eyes For You’ being a highlight. Just listening to it has you in a smoke filled Jazz Cafe in Harlem pre-WWII.
As this is a Soundtrack; you shouldn’t be too surprised that of the 13 tracks it includes a couple of instrumentals, in addition to a diverse range of songs that show off Billie Holliday’s amazing vocal ability and nuances at their best; including the standards, “God Bless The Child,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” and “I Loves You, Porgy.”
It’s amazing to see and hear the standards she both achieved and maintained across her long career; considering the problems she encountered in her life with drink, drugs and a not very good choice of male companions.
If you have seen the Amy Winehouse documentary, the similarities between the two are noticeable – great voice/ability, but offset by a very bad choice of (male) managers etc. Two tortured souls unable  to ultimately survive despite having a voice of an exceptionally special standard.
For Holiday lovers under normal times the Film and this soundtrack would almost certainly be ‘one not to miss,’ but with the current lockdown concerns it will be more a case of ‘trying to find a cinema’ in which to see the film.
With so many tracks to select from there will almost certainly be plenty upset at the absence of some of her other famous recordings; but as a Companion Soundtrack to try and attract viewers to the film this is a pretty good effort – picking 13 tracks to ‘package’ her career was definitely a tough ask, easily achieves what it was set out to.
Hopefully, the film will do Billie Holiday’s story justice …. warts and all.
If only we are able to see it!


1.Now or Never
2. God Bless the Child
3. Hoppin’ Around 
4. Blues are Brewin’ 
5. Funeral in New Orleans
6. Fine and Mellow 
7. Strange Fruit
8. Just One More Chance 
9. My Man 
10. I Only Have Eyes For You 
11. I’ll Never Smile Again
12. Don’t Explain 
13. I Loves You, Porgy

Released 13th November 2020
Courtesy Bill Redhead.


Doug Schmude MILEPOSTS

Doug Schmude

Charming Alt. Country With a Folk Troubadour’s Insight Into Our World.

One of the biggest dilemmas we face here in Reviewerland is actually remembering all of the albums we’ve reviewed!
I’m pretty good with names; but the music? Hmmm ….. not always.
So when Doug Schmude got in touch a few weeks ago like a long lost friend, his name rang a bell but it took two days for me to find the 2018 album I had raved about, but I had and it was with genuine pleasure that I said ‘yes’ to a copy of his latest EP of Alt. Country-Folk, Mileposts.
The first word that comes to mind now I’ve played it a few times is ‘charming’; and that’s meant in a positive way; especially as many of the albums we hear are ‘worthy’ and ‘angsty’ and very occasionally ‘piss n vinegary’ all of which have a place in my heart; but sometimes I just want to hear happy pleasant music; sung with joy and love.
MILEPOSTS falls into this latter category; starting with Ballad of Early, which took a couple of days to unravel; but when it did I let out a ‘tee hee.’ A genuinely clever song with a neat twist that you sort of expect; but when it does still comes as a surprise.
As someone with not a single musical bone in my body; I’m always impressed when I hear a songwriter take a tired old ‘theme’ like breaking up with a loved one; and putting their own distinctive stamp on it …… which is exactly what Schmude does with Lines on My Face; arguably the type of song Guy Clark may have written on his last couple of records.
The title track Mileposts is a real ole toe-tapper which will appeal to fellow troubadours and people with itchy-feet, who can’t stay in one place too long; never putting down roots and developing grown up relationships …. which is a pretty brave thing to write about, when you think about it.
Let’s skip back to track #2, Crow.
Probably the most charming song here; the Hill Country toe-tapper Crow; and the first time I played it I thought, “is this a John Prine song?” Checked, and obviously it isn’t but sounds as if it’s been heavily influenced by our dear departed friend.

I mention this because the final song here is ……. A World Without John Prine, which will squeeze the tears out of your eyes like very few others as this year develops; and given a fair wind could be picked up by other singers for inclusion on their albums and/or at least House Concerts.
Then there is Maybe I Won’t Go Home.
It would have been far too easy to choose the John Prine song as my Favourite; but Schmude’s acutely observed tale Maybe I Won’t Go Home deserves the accolade for the intelligent way Doug tells his sorrowful tale in a clear, succinct and just short of tearful way.
Here the Californian (out of Oklahoma) channels his inner Woody Guthrie and Tom Paxton, as he articulates a tale that will resonate across every town, city and state in the USA but across the whole Western World.
I somehow doubt this song will make him his fortune or win a Grammy; but trust me ……. Doug Schmude can be a very proud man for writing this song.

Released November 6th 2020


My Darling Clementine (with Steve Nieve) COUNTRY DARKNESS

My Darling Clementine (with Steve Nieve)
Fretstore Records

A Musical Marriage Made in Country Heaven.

In the week Elvis Costello himself releases his own latest album; one of/if not Britain’s finest Alt. Country act’s re-imagines a bunch of his songs as Classic Country songs …….. and after listening to both; I know which I prefer and which is more relevent…. and here’s my thoughts on it.
History will undoubtedly show that Elvis Costello is one of our country’s finest ever Songwriters; but when he meanders off into Avant Garde territories he loses me; and presumably you too.
Nothing here is going to be from the Dolly Parton playbook of jolly sing-alongs; this is very much the dark end of a lonely street in North Tree Stump; but hey ….. what else would you expect from this combo.
COUNTRY DARKNESS is a culmination of the three EP’S that My Darling Clementine have recently released of their adaptations of a variety of Costello’s songs; and it has come as something of a breath of fresh air in late 2020.
As is their won’t Michael and Lou don’t look at the ‘obvious’ for their selection; and with opening song Either Side of The Same Town, take us down a very dark and lonely side street as they reveal that Costello’s words are just perfect for this variation on a them; and Attraction original; Steve Nieve makes his keyboards sound like they are at a cold and damp funeral, for extra pathos, as if it was needed.
While an Elvis Costello fan, I don’t recognise several songs here as they are from albums that I’ve hardly ever played; so hearing Michael and Lou wail and plead their way through That Day Is Done, Still Too Soon to Know and the tragic Why Can’t a Man Stand Alone has been like discovering a rare treasure in the attic; and when I went back to the originals they didn’t sound half as good as these re-inventions.
Of the songs I do recognise and love; I’ll Wear it Proudly sounds like George and Tammy singing a Johnny and June song that was written by Willie Nelson; as it just bleeds Country tragedy in this format.
While more up-tempo than what goes before; Stranger in The House is still as dark and scary as Elvis Costello’s version and every other version you’ve heard; but somehow My Darling Clementine still manage to add their very own potency to an already simmering gumbo.
With Lou Dalgleish taking the lead Indoor Fireworks sounds as intensely passionate as the original; but takes on a whole new life when Michael’s part comes in to create a genuine bonafide 21st Century Country Classic, which runs Laura Cantrell’s ever so lonely version a very close race indeed.
As I regularly say; COUNTRY DARKNESS is a good old fashioned Long Player that deserves your full attention and needs to be played from start to finish.
That said; in a parallel universe it’s also full to the brim with hit singles; the type that kill the mood when you put them on a jukebox.
The nearest to Country Pop and therefore eminently danceable; The Crooked Line revolves around Steve Nieve’s wondrous swinging organ and some militaristic drumming in the background; and serves as a rare shaft of sunshine on a very dark day.
Which is also where I’m going for my Favourite Song here, which is a coin toss between Heart Shaped Bruise and the new track Powerless (which didn’t feature on the EP’s).
From My Darling Clementine’s very own pens, Powerless certainly squeezes out the pathos of Michael’s words and it also sits in very well on an album of sombre and brooding Country songs; which is a helluva surprise when you hear what goes before it.
The other; and the one song here I had to take a deep breath before listening to, is Heart Shaped Bruise.
Elvis did this as a duet with Emmylou Harris on THE DELIVERY MAN, and it’s been a personal favourite of mine ever since.
So; is this better?
No….. of course not; but it’s very close to getting very close to the perfection of the original; and yes ……. I can imagine any or all of the classic Country Couples singing this it the Opry; and if they had, there wouldn’t have been a dry eye in the house ….. or at home in TV and Radio Land.
All in all this has been a brave album to record; but one that makes perfect sense when you know My Darling Clementine AND Elvis Costello; it’s a three-way marriage made in Nashville Heaven; and of course Steve Nieve is the Best Man too.

Released 6th November 2020


BOBBO BYRNES SeaGreenNumber5

Self Release

A Gentle Alternative to both Alt. and Country Themselves.

I’ve really liked Byrnes’ last two releases; especially Red Wheelbarrow; so was surprised to see a review of SeaGreenNumber5 turn up on my Twittery timeline a couple of months ago; and then, ‘as if by magic’ said Promo Copy arrived a week later.
Sadly; because it had already been released it kept getting put on and off the ‘to do’ pile in the office; but I keep getting drawn back to it in the car or on my ‘day off’ …. Sundays.
Why would that be, you might well ask.
Well; it’s a departure from Red Wheelbarrow, that’s for sure; but the songs and Byrne’s distinctive weary voice are exactly what I’ve wanted and needed to hear recently.
Opening track, Queen of The Party is an absolute doozy of an Alternative to both Alt. and Country itself; while serving both genres admirably. Part Roger McGuinn (and the Byrds get a subtle mention), part Gram Parsons and even a little part one of my favourite Northern Irish singers; Anthony Toner …. but always Bobbo Byrnes; that’s for sure.
Art first When We Ride sounded like a Tom Russell cowboy song; but the more it’s evolved it sounds more in the vein of Neil’s Unknown Legend; as it’s beautifully windswept and charismatic, which says a lot about Byrnes intricate way with words and melodies.
That last sentence holds true throughout; most noticeably on the majestic Eveline, 10,00 Miles and Running Back To You, which all twist the melancholy out of his love stories like very few of his contempories ever manage.
Tucked away in the middle is a lovely surprise; Geo’s Jig ……. which as the titles implies is just that; a sweet and winsome Celtic instrumental with some extraordinary guitar and mandolin playing throughout.
As you may expect; choosing a single Favourite Song here has been far from easy for me; December is as dark and despondent as you’d expect from such a title on such an album; especially when he sings about ignoring the ‘unanswered phone ringing while he drinks his breakfast beer;’ as Jeremy Long makes his pedal-steel sound like tears running down a ruddy cheek.
Then; there’s album closer; Somewhere Else with it’s intriguing intro; angry acoustic guitar playing and words so sad, they will squeeze your heartstrings until you can’t breathe ……. but in a good way.
One of my Favourite Songs of all times is Favourite Photograph Of You by Guy Clark; and while I should therefore have haughtily sniffed at Bobbo Byrnes song, Favourite Photograph coming along in the same vein; but I can’t.
This duet (with Tracy Byrnes on harmonies) is every inch as stunning and stinging as Clark’s song and has me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath every time I hear it. So the title of RMHQ Favourite Song goes to Favourite Photograph.
Discovering and ‘promoting’ the works of acts like Bobbo Byrnes is why I started this whole reviewing malarkey; even though it shouldn’t really be necessary when this is his tenth release under his own name and/or with his band The Fallen Stars; but with so much competition out there I sometimes feel I am a lone voice in the wilderness …… so buy SeaGreenNumber5 or be damned to Hell!

Released July 14th 2020