Markus Rill and Robert Hasleder
Sad and Simple Americana To Help You While Away The Long Cold Winter Evenings.
It’s that time of year when I’m meant to be winding down; generally ignoring the Christmas Albums and Compilations that are destined for unwrapping on the 25th December; but two new and fairly exciting albums, that I can’t ignore arrived last week for December releases!
The first is the latest album from our friend Markus Rill and his ‘real’ friend Robert Hasleder.
Like so many of his contempories around the globe Markus passed the early ‘lockdown’ days scribbling down note for new songs that could be filled out next month when it was all over.
Then that month passed and the next and …… well, you know the story; and still with time on his hands he actually finished the songs and decided to record themselves in the ‘old fashioned’ way, acoustically and very, very simply.
The ‘simple’ production is perfect from start to finish; most especially for opener Full Grown Love, which sounds like some picking the scab off a decaying affair and questioning everything; including the singer’s own weaknesses.
If you ask him; I think Markus Rill will call himself a Country singer; which he is; but perhaps it’s the acoustic treatment to these songs, but methinks his honesty and romanticism are more suited to Americana.
Rill has always had the ability to find beauty in the mundane and ordinary; but rarely have his songs sounded as haunted as You & My Youth, Two Girls and the crisply cool Siren Song (That Kind of Fool), which daringly and probably unwittingly, enters John Prine territory.
There’s an uptempo belter tucked away in the middle too; and I certainly expect to hear a louder and more raucous version of That’s How I Roll on the next album he records with a band; but until then this sparkling duet will certainly suffice.
And, a duo it most certainly is; as Robert Hasleder’s presence is an integral part of the album as he plays a multitude of instruments: guitar, mandolin, banjo, accordion, bouzouki, with Markus Rill providing his distinctive vocals,guitar and a little bit of harmonica.
Whether it’s Country or Americana nothing beats a ‘lost love’ song to close an album, does it? Perhaps not absolutely every one of us; but a lot will take a deep breath when they hear The One That Got Away; because there is ‘one’ in all of our lives; isn’t there?
Rill’s raspy vocals and soft, almost whispered delivery alongside a gently strummed guitar and wheezing accordion add up to become an absolutely stunning song.
But, why is that not the RMHQ Favourite Track, if it’s so good?
Well; there’s another that’s even better!
Maybe it was a challenge he set himself; but The Man In The Long Black is so unlike anything I’ve heard Markus record before, in fact it’s a little bit scary.
Albeit a Bob Dylan song; the title initially made me think of Johnny Cash; and his spectre is all over the words and even melody here; with more than a hint of Leonard Cohen in there too, if he’d ever tried to sing a Noirish Country song.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention; or so they say; and in this instance the ‘necessity’ forced on Markus and Robert, has proved to have a silver lining with this rather cracking collection of songs.
As I’m prone to say with Markus Rill releases; in a ‘blind tasting’ 99.99% of listeners would presume that he was American; but he’s not ……. he’s German born and bred; although did spend a good few succesful years in and around Nashville a few years ago.
Released 11th December 2020
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