Pork Chops & Blues
A Little Ray of Rhythm and Blues Sunshine and a Bit of an Emotional Rollercoaster
I’ve been back in a dark place mentally recently; which as usual makes me think “Why do I bother” regarding the website ……. sad; but true; then along came Kyle Culkin with his Pork Chops & Blues; instantly the clouds began to lift and a little ray of sunshine entered my life.
A twenty year man at the coal-face of being a working musician; with only one previous solo release to his name; Kyle Culkin has been a ‘go to’ session man and touring geetar player for the great and the good (and no doubt the average too) with very little glory; apart from BB King saying “This kid can play!” but always paying the rent; so has that apprenticeship done him any good?
Hell yes it has!
The Pork Chop Song comes at you like a drunk on the dancefloor on a Saturday night ……… is it literally a song about Culkin’s favourite meat meal; or is it a metaphor for something sexual in nature? This is the Blues with a mighty streak of Rhythm so it could be either or both; and boy is it a crowd pleaser.
Now four days into this album and I can tell you that if you were wandering down a rainy Lonely Street one Tuesday evening and you saw the Kyle Culkin Band were playing in the Heartbreak Hotel your spirits would be lifted in such a way you may even try to marry the barmaid …… even if you are a woman!
On Delbert McClinton’s Why Me, Kyle certainly sounds like he has a twinkle in his eyes as he sings it; a bit of a Country-Rock spine to it; but it’s a pure Honky-Tonking Blues stomper of the highest order; and will have you dancing like no one’s watching ….. even if you’re in the kitchen.
While I love that song; Culkin’s slow and slinky songs really do it for me ……. both; Nothing From Nobody and Wouldn’t Change a thing are guaranteed to have you shouting “Ain’t that the truth Brother!” and Culkin and friends’ playing ain’t too shabby either, with barely a note out of place on two incredibly well constructed songs.
At only 8 tracks long this album still somehow manages to be an emotional rollercoaster, with By The Blues and the awe inspiring album closer Wouldn’t Change a Thing being the types of broken hearted love songs that have you reaching for a glass, then raising it to the stereo as Culkin makes you feel that you aren’t alone with these feelings.
Then; there has to be a Favourite Song of mine; here I’ve decided on two very different styles of song to battle it out.
Burn It All Down is an A-Typical Rhythm and Blues stomper with searing guitar; heart breaking harmonica and a singer who isn’t giving up easily …… and a chorus that is designed especially for public participation.
The other; and more likely winner is the song that blew my clouds away …….. a bit of a big band (BB King style?) production finds the singer sitting in his dressing room thinking when did I become So Damn Old!
Yep ….. that’s me Kyle Culkin is singing about; or possibly you too ……
“Tell my wife and kids they should have seen me
back in my prime the age of 23
I could go all night long
Now with any luck ………
I need three cups of coffee
Just to get out of bed!”
Some days I think that there is too much music out there; and then albums like this arrive from someone I’ve never heard of ……. and my faith in the restorative powers of music; especially The Blues is restored; and the future looks rosy again.
Thank you Kyle Culkin.