Anna Tivel The Question Fluff & Gravy / Proper Records
Razor Sharp and Intimately Epic American Folk Songs.
I had a bucket load of CD’s to write about that are being released for Record Store Day 2019, when I got my dates mixed up and dropped this release from singer-songwriter Anna Tivel from Portland, Oregon into the office CD Player, when halfway through opening track The Question I was stopped in my tracks and had to return to the start. Phew, blimey and even crikey! What a way to start a record of what is primarily pure and simple American Folk Music. While these songs are certainly ‘pure of heart’ they are as far from ‘simple’ as you can get. As there is such a brilliant ‘twist to the tale’ it would be wrong of me to talk to much about this amazing song, less I give the game away. But what I will say is the the character Anna sings about is going through something a close friend and colleague is going through too at this very moment, and both have brought me to tears. What a brilliant way to start any album. Then there is track #2 Fenceline, which I will come back to at the end as this sublime and ever so timely story is by far and away my Favourite Song on an album that will surely turn up in my year end Top 10. Then, there is track #3 the dark and ethereal Shadowland which could well have been written after the songwriter had immersed herself in Leonard Cohen’s Masterworks for a week or more, such is the way her flawless and poetics words join together and float mercilessly from the speakers. Then again, most songs here are in that vein too. I wish I had the time and space to speak longingly about every single song here; but I will leave those surprises for you to discover for yourself. What I will say though is songs like Minneapolis and Velvet Curtain aren’t anywhere near as delicate as Shane Leonard’s production and Brian Joseph’s engineering would have yo believe at first hearing. These songs, and the album as a whole demand your FULL ATTENTION…… as I will be asking questions later. On any other album the song *Anthony would easily be my Favourite Track. A ‘break up song’ par excellence and unlike any other I think I’ve ever heard. I’ll tell you how good it is; if Anthony ever crosses my path I will ‘Biff him on the nose’ for breaking Anna’s brittle little heart. Bastard! As a CODA to that song, there’s the incredible and punchier Worthless which if it’s not about Anthony it’s about someone very similar….. and he too will get a Biff on the nose too! The actual Winner of the RMHQ Favourite Song is Fenceline. Flipping Heck Mother! If ever there was a song that was ‘of its time’ it’s this one; while not exactly a protest song per se; this harrowing and epic tale of a man trying to cross the Mexican/American Border is so well told and created it is surely a song waiting for a film for it to be the soundtrack to. Anna’s story builds and builds alongside the notes her crystal clear voice reach until I found my fists had clenched tight. This is a song that should be on the school curriculum and played every day at morning assembly. Plus, if ever the likes of Joan Baez or Judy Collins were on the look out for a song that captured the current Zeitgeist they need look no further. I love discovering new artistes and music then having the ability to pass it on to you crazy kids…… and albums like THE QUESTION are the lifeblood of RMHQ and are what keep us going. So; instead of squandering your pocket money during Record Store Day or even on chocolate eggs for Easter; save your cash and invest it in THE QUESTION …… you won’t be disappointed.
*Hopefully Anthony is actually a fictitious character that Anna Tivel has made up for this song. I hope so for his sake!
John Paul White The Hurting Kind Single Lock Records
Country Songs For Not Just Only The Lonely But the Hopeful Too.
Even if I didn’t already know who John Paul White was the stunning Blue Notesque artwork on the album cover would certainly have caught my attention in a record shop; and I would cross my fingers that that haunted look in the singers eyes was a foretaste of what was to come. And my second sight would have been 100% correct. White’s songs in his previous incarnation as half of the Civil Wars and then his last solo album Beulah were always heartfelt and on the sadder edges of Country Music; but from opening song The Good Old Days you get the feeling this young man has spent the intervening years wallowing in the section of his record collection that includes Hank, George, Patsy, Raul and more likely than not……. Roy Orbison. What a way to start an album; and man, oh man will that song take your breath away. It’s never been in any doubt that White was/is one of the finest songwriters of his generation and here he surrounds himself with some really clever co-writers; but even I have been surprised by the depths of his soul that he manages to mine for the winsome The Long Way Home or Yesterday’s Love and the stunning and occasionally stinging title track itself, The Hurting Kind which will all break hearts left, right and centre across the Western World. John Paul White admits to attempting to recreate the Classic Country sound of the early 1960’s when they went into the studio; and he has certainly managed that with ease, but just like Buddy Holly he’s managed to include luscious orchestrations throughout that never threaten to overshadow his magnificent voice or contemporary and it has to be said, edgy lyrics either. If there’s a theme here; and as it’s a Country Album in all but name; the golden thread is ‘Love’ in all it’s forms. On I Wish I Could Write You a Song, White adds some Twang as a metaphor for the way his heart feels as he attempts to tell the girl how he feels. I can only think he missed a Million Dollar Trick by not releasing this on St. Valentine’s Day! The song that already appears to picking up interest is the world weary duet with Lee Ann Womack, This Isn’t Gonna End Well and it’s as wonderful a Country duet as you will hear this year, or indeed methinks…… this century! But…… that’s not even the best song here! Nor is Mrs. Magpie’s selection for Favourite Song My Dreams Have All Come True, the one where White takes melancholy into a whole new stratosphere. Nope, the best song here (in my humble opinion) is Heart Like a Kite, a fairly simply constructed song by the high standards that White sets here; but one full of metaphors and longing that will reduce grown men to a mushy heap. Just imagine White sitting on a porch with his Stetson tipped back on his head as he fights back the tears while singing, “She’s got a heart like a kite Floating away all the time But I’m holding on for dear life But she’s got a heart like a kite.” Come on; if George Jones had wrote that verse there’s not a jukebox in America that wouldn’t still be playing it today. It would have been all too easy for John Paul White to have stayed in the shadows with his current career as a ‘Go-To’ Producer; but no…… he’s a songwriter and singer first and foremost, and he’s dug deep here to create in many ways a career-defining album that should and will not just feature in many Reviewers Top 10’s of 2019; but will surely see him in the running for yet another Grammy.
Las night I planned to review something completely different than this latest release by DL Rossi, but after not playing it for a couple of weeks, something drew me to the artwork on the cover and here I am, about to start gushing about this guy, his voice and his wonderful songs. I’ve said before ‘music effects you in many ways depending on your emotional state at a particular time’ and so it has been with this EP/Album this morning. I knew the songs from a couple of weeks ago; but this morning …… woah…. they have taken me not just by surprise but as a musical hostage! At first sight opening track This Road is a staple of the Americana/Roots scene; but there’s something quite magical about the way Nolan Rossi’s delicate production brings out the sadness; no…. the tragedy in DL’s voice as he pulls us through an emotional ringer, on a story of being in the middle of a real-life shoot-em-up and the mixed emotions such a trauma leaves someone with. For a young man, DL has had his fair share of troubles, from testicular cancer through a failed marriage that followed a nervous breakdown and not forgetting his dalliance with Punk Rock getting him ostracised from the Christian community he had belonged to growing up. But being a songwriter; those tattered emotions just make for damn fine songs; listen to the mournful Love Song A Sweet Thing to understand where I’m coming from! There’a blue-collar Alt. Country essence to Good Woman; you know the type that Steve Earle used to create and Rossi grabs that tarnished mantle with a new found fervour on this heart-crushing love song. On the deep, dark and soulful More Seconds Rossi takes to the acoustic guitar, and with the assistance of Mollie Parden and Corrie Bechler on backing vocals they combine to create a song worthy of Gram Parsons at his most eloquent. A drummer by profession, it’s no surprise that DL has a wonderful way with timing on these songs, especially so on Something Back which just sweeps you along like a leaf in the wind. With only 7 songs here; and each one has effected me in some way, selecting a Favourite has certainly not been easy; with Be Your Man and it’s inherent passion oozing from every single line being a contender; but I’m going for the song that should be a Radio Hit if it weren’t for the judicial use of the word ‘shit’ in every other stanza! Better is one of those songs that a writer only manages to write once in a lifetime; as many people listening to it will think ‘that is about me!’ In Better Rossi really encapsulates the raw emotions you feel when things are spiralling out of control;
“I lost a lot But I also lost myself Doing things I never thought I’d do And I’m broken up But that isn’t an excuse To be an asshole after a few.”
History shows that Rossi does come out the other side; with a fabulous song in tow too. Not everyone is so lucky.
I have a Gretchen Peter’s T-Shirt that says ‘Sad Songs Make Me Happy’ and that phrase neatly encapsulates my feelings about DL Rossi’s songs here; they are as sad as sad can be; but they are as intrinsically beautiful and tragic as can be but hopeful and eloquent too, and the world is a better place that they are available for the likes of me and you to wallow in his prose.
Bob Hillman Some of Us Are Free, Some of Us Are Lost Self-Release
Contemporary and Free-Thinking AOR.
I was sitting earlier today wondering what to write about next, as there are a couple of releases from ‘name acts’ that I’m having trouble getting my head around; so I put Bob Hillman’s fifth release in the player and was soon swept up in the deceptively ‘easy listening’ manner of his voice and the particularly luscious production on a few songs. Then I listened a bit more closely and these songs are really deep and quite edgy at times too. Right up our street then! The title track, Some of Us Are Free, Some of Us Are Lost opens the disc with a laid-back, Laurel Canyon vibe…… not a million miles away from Jackson Browne and Stephen Still if I’m not mistaken….. but I probably am! Hillman’s storytelling isn’t exactly in the A-B style; there’s very much a poetic heartbeat to most of these songs; albeit in a Soft-Rock & Roll fashion. I’ve quickly become smitten with Song For Sarah, Carveresque and Hypnotized; and I guess the more I play them each will unravel a bit more each time revealing really special secrets. As I’m prone to do, I try to pick out an artistes influences for you and the names that spring to mind are the afore mentioned Jackson Browne but Steely Dan and Barenaked Ladies too …… I don’t know why either. This is very much an articulate and ‘grown up’ album with plenty for the listener to wrap their cerebral matter around and discuss at length….. This Surfing Life and Cocaine Ruins Everything immediatly spring to mind, with the latter being about David Crosby. My first choice as Favourite Song wouldn’t surprise regular readers who know what a sucker I am for a ‘love song’ so I nearly picked one of the two versions of I’m In Love With You; probably the latter Jazzier version too; but I’m going to surprise you and me by actually selecting You’re Off The Rails; a slightly off-kilter You’re Off The Rails; probably because bits (if not all) reflect a relationship I had with a friend; and the Alt. Electro Pop tune does it no harm at all and makes this the most Steely Danesque song here and a damn good one at that.
A couple of weeks ago my friend Richard Leader played something, I can’t remember what on his radio show Leader’s Americana Pie; and someone commented how ‘leftfield’ it was…… oh how I chuckled. You want leftfield? I’ll give you a whole shelf load of leftfield if you think you can handle it….. let’s start with the latest release from famed Producer, singer-songwriter and bandleader with 14 of his own previous records already under his belt, Mr. James H Mathus aka Jimbo Mathus. I will tell you how good opening track You Are Like a Song is. Last Sunday I was sitting engrossed as I edited some photos when Mrs. Magpie walked in on me; scowled and muttered “What the Hell is this?” HA! Well, the song itself isn’t actually easy to describe as it’s a conglomeration of rinky-dinky piano inside a Gospel song from the backwoods of Kentucky …… think Dr. John’s orphaned younger brother? The title track Incinerator follows and is even weirder (albeit in a good way!) and thankfully the lyrics are wisely not included; as they are a bit bonkers….. but hey; who cares? It’s a mind-blowing three and a half minutes and that’s all that matters. Mathus and producer Matt Patton (from the Drive By Truckers) go on to challenge the listener in every which way; with tracks that could be film scores (Really Hurt Someone and Never Know Till It’s Gone spring to mind); and I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if either or both were to turn up in some windswept Scandi-Noir thriller sometime soon. Personally I love the way Mathus throws little musical hand-grenades around left , right and centre not caring what collateral damage they do to the listeners senses and sensibilities. The spine chilling Country song South of Laredo is immediatly followed by the luscious and multi-layered Been Unravelling then the whole house will shake on the Voodoo rallying cry of Alligator Fish; which will make Tom Waits and Jay Hawkins fans giddily excited. There’s a duet of sorts here too, with Lily Hiatt sharing harmonies and a verse on Sunken Road which is probably as cool a slice of Americana Music as you’ll hear this year…… I promise. Where the Hell to go for a Favourite Song? Should I just close my eyes and stick a pin in? Nope….. I’m going for two songs of polar opposites; which is what this glorious musical gumbo is all about anyways…… so the delightful Country & Western Swing of Give Me The Roses ties with the sombre and unsettling Incinerator which I mentioned earlier; but it could have been anything really; because if you get through to the end track …. you ‘get it’ and you ‘get’ Jimbo Mathus; not everyone will.
I love it when every now and then I come across an album that’s unexpectedly fun, rocking, and even daring. Dirty Power, by the band Girls on Grass, is this season’s winner in that category. Guitar-fueled songs with driving bass and pounding drums aren’t exactly a new thing in the world of “Americana,” but Barbara Endes writes and sings with such self-assurance and bravado that you have to sit up and pay attention. “I’m in like with a chick who likes good music” she declares in “Friday Night'” and the interplay between the guitars is so seamless and thrilling you have no choice but to like it, too. The first track, “Down at the Bottom” is part power pop, part Bakersfield, with smooth harmonies, and quite a bit of intended cheekiness amongst the twin guitar attack. “Into the Sun” reminds me of L.A. band That Dog in a myriad of good ways, while “Street Fight” is easily the equal of the toughest of Jen Trynin’s nineties tunes. With songs such as “Commander in Thief” and “Because Capitalism” it’s not hard to tell which side of the political fence they’re on and Endes happily pulls no punches while never forgetting that it’s easy to bitch and moan in a song, more difficult to make it rock out effortlessly while doing so, and then to seriously rock out. One thing I rarely get enough of, if done right, are instrumentals. Maybe it was all those years listening to surf rock in my Kentucky bedroom, the nearest beach hundreds of miles away, but it’s always been my opinion that a good instrumental tells a story just as much as a traditional song with lyrics does. And did I mention that there’s not just one rocking instrumental on this album, but TWO? Two solid rock instrumental gems that convey the fun this band must be having on stage. Their website tags them as “cosmic country surf garage” and that’s about as apt as it gets.
Shane Dwight No One Loves Me Better Red Parlor Records
Southern Rock With a Hefty Dash of Blues and Country.
There’s no special formula when it comes to choosing albums to review, and it can sometimes be a minefield; especially when I don’t recognise any of the names in the pile. In this particular case it wasn’t the fairly interesting artwork that caught my attention; but the guy’s name ….. Shane Dwight. It sort of sounded like a character from the TV series Nashville to my addled mind; and as if by magic Shane’s fascinating Southern Rocking Country/Blues hybrid could easily have fit into that show just perfectly. The title track No One Loves Me Better kick-starts the album like turning the key in a new Porsche Boxster…… a delightful rumble that foretells a classy ride is in store, preferably with the top down. Dwight has a ‘worn around the edges’ sound to it; and the glorious female backing vocalists coupled to some cool rolling piano and guitar that accompanies Dwight sounds like it could all have been appropriated from Muscle Shoals back in it’s heyday, as opposed to Kevin McKendree’s studio in Franklin, TN. Dwight wears his influences proudly as he throws caution to the wind on the Roadhouse boogie of Stand Up and on If You Ain’t The Devil he gets low down and dirty in a way that makes you feel all hot and sweaty. Even though it’s all too easy to just sit back and wallow in Dwight’s demonstrative and expressive voice; there’s a lot going in both the background of his songs but the detail in his fairly edgy subject matter too. While most songs will be most at home when played out in full, in concert there’s more than enough to enthrall the listener at home or in the car when you hear Levy Girl, She Likes to Ride and the awesome Sucker, with it’s nod in the direction of Bozz Scaggs, but with a Hip-Hop beat. I’ve been torn between two entirely different songs for my title of Favourite Song; Trial of a Poet is a very modern twist on traditional Country Blues and features some sizzling Resonator guitar as Bekka Bramlett wails like a haunting siren in the background. The other is a straight up ‘cheating’ Country Rocker; Bullets & Gasoline; but the way Dwight and the band pull it together makes it rather special indeed and is sure to be concert closer supreme! It appears Shane Dwight has been around the American Blues scene for a decade or so; but this album so classy and well constructed I think the time is right for him to break out into the rest of the World; which will welcome him with open arms.
FEATURING RARE AND UNRELEASED RECORDINGS AVAILABLE ON 3CD / 1CD / 2X VINYL LP
In what would have been the 50th year of Rory Gallagher’srecording career, UMC are pleased to announce the release of‘BLUES’ on Friday 31st May 2019. From the vaults of the Gallagher estate’s tape archive comes this collection of rare and unreleased recordings of Rory playing his favourite blues material. Ranging from never heard before tracks to special guest sessions with legendary blues artists (Muddy Waters / Albert King) and lost radio sessions, this album uncovers Rory’s love of the blues throughout his solo career from 1971 right through to 1994.
Formats include a 15 track 1CD / 2LP version, limited edition blue vinyl 2LP and a deluxe 36 track 3CD version showcasing Rory’s virtuoso performances of electric, acoustic and live blues. The Deluxe comprises 90% unreleased material and features performances with musical legends such as Muddy Waters, Albert King, Jack Bruce, Lonnie Donegan and Chris Barber. The Deluxe Edition also comes with an extensive booklet comprising previously unseen pictures if Rory plus a new essay by award winning Blues / Rock writer Jas Obrecht.
If ever there was a “musician’s musician” then that accolade surely belongs to Rory Gallagher. Renowned for his blistering live performances and highly respected for his dedication to his craft, he died in 1995, aged just 47, yet his reputation has continued to flourish in the years since. Indeed, some of rock’s most seminal figures, from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton, Queen’s Brian May to The Smiths’ Johnny Marr, have cited him as an influence. Clapton credited Rory with “getting me back into the blues”, while May has unequivocally stated: “I owe Rory Gallagher my sound.”
“The man who changed my musical life was Rory Gallagher, I picked up a guitar because of him.”– Johnny Marr
“’A Million Miles Away’ was the first song I learned on guitar. The story goes that when Jimi Hendrix was asked how it felt to be the greatest guitarist in the world, he answered, “I don’t know. Go ask Rory Gallagher.” – Ed Sheeran
“As soon as I heard Cradle Rock, I was hooked. I thought, ‘This is what I want to be when I grow up.’”– Joe Bonamassa
“Rory didn’t sound like anybody else…He had a very individual, independent kind of tone and approach and everything. He’s always been a big hero to me.” – Slash
From his first album with Taste through his final solo record, Rory Gallagher remained true to his own musical vision. Like the American bluesmen he admired, he created an instantly identifiable sound. His raw, unfettered vocals perfectly suited the blues-worthy themes he sang of, and his guitar style was a force unto itself. Like B.B. King and Buddy Guy, he excelled at playing storytelling solos on electric guitar. Like Muddy Waters, he was a skilled slider. And like Blind Boy Fuller, Lead Belly, and Big Bill Broonzy, he displayed amazing dexterity on the acoustic guitar. But unlike many of his peers in the U.K., especially during the 1960s and 1970s, Gallagher did not specialize in note-perfect copies of other people’s songs. As he explained to an interviewer in 1978, “I never started out to be a strict recreator of the blues or even a modern young bluesman. I wanted to be me.”
3 CD Deluxe Edition
CD 1 – Electric Blues
1. Don’t Start Me Talkin’ (Unreleased track from the Jinx album sessions 1982) 2. Nothin’ But The Devil (Unreleased track from the Against The Grain album sessions 1975) 3. Tore Down (Unreleased track from the Blueprint album sessions 1973) 4. Off The Handle (Unreleased session Paul Jones Show BBC Radio 1986) 5. I Could’ve Had Religion (Unreleased WNCR Cleveland radio session from 1972) 6. As the Crow Flies (Unreleased track from Tattoo album sessions 1973) 7. A Million Miles Away (Unreleased BBC Radio 1 Session 1973) 8. Should’ve Learnt My Lesson (Outtake from Deuce album sessions 1971) 9. Leaving Town Blues (Tribute track from Peter Green ‘Rattlesnake Guitar’ 1994) 10. Drop Down Baby (Rory guest guitar on Lonnie Donegan’s “Puttin’ On The Style” album 1978 11. I’m Ready (Guest guitarist on Muddy Waters ‘London Sessions’ album 1971) 12. Bullfrog Blues (Unreleased WNCR Cleveland radio session from 1972)
CD 2 – Acoustic Blues
1. Who’s That Coming (Acoustic outtake from Tattoo album sessions 1973) 2. Should’ve Learnt My Lesson (Acoustic outtake from Deuce album sessions 1971) 3. Prison Blues (Unreleased track from Blueprint album sessions 1973) 4. Secret Agent (Unreleased acoustic version from RTE Irish TV 1976) 5. Blow Wind Blow (Unreleased WNCR Cleveland radio session from 1972) 6. Bankers Blues (Outtake from the Blueprint album sessions 1973) 7. Whole Lot Of People (Acoustic outtake from Deuce album sessions 1971) 8. Loanshark Blues (Unreleased acoustic version from German TV 1987) 9. Pistol Slapper Blues (Unreleased acoustic version from Irish TV 1976) 10. Can’t Be Satisfied (Unreleased Radio FFN session from 1992) 11. Want Ad Blues (Unreleased RTE Radio Two Dave Fanning session 1988) 12. Walkin’ Blues (Unreleased acoustic version from RTE Irish TV 1987)
CD 3 – Live Blues
1. When My Baby She Left Me (Unreleased track from Glasgow Apollo concert 1982) 2. Nothin’ But The Devil (Unreleased track from Glasgow Apollo concert 1982) 3. What In The World (Unreleased track from Glasgow Apollo concert 1982) 4. I Wonder Who (Unreleased live track from late 1980s) 5. Messin’ With The Kid (Unreleased track from Sheffield City Hall concert 1977) 6. Tore Down (Unreleased track from Newcastle City Hall concert 1977) 7. Garbage Man Blues (Unreleased track from Sheffield City Hall concert 1977) 8. All Around Man (Unreleased track from BBC OGWT Special 1976) 9. Born Under A Bad Sign (Unreleased track from Rockpalast 1991 w/ Jack Bruce) 10. You Upset Me (Unreleased guest performance from Albert King album ‘Live’ 1975) 11. Comin’ Home Baby (Unreleased track from 1989 concert with Chris Barber Band) 12. Rory Talking Blues (Interview track of Rory talking about the blues)
1 CD Version
1. Don’t Start Me Talkin’ (Unreleased track from the Jinx album sessions 1982) 2. Nothin’ But The Devil (Unreleased track from the Against The Grain album sessions 1975) 3. Tore Down (Unreleased track from the Blueprint album sessions 1973) 4. Off The Handle (Unreleased session Paul Jones Show BBC Radio 1986) 5. A Million Miles Away (Unreleased BBC Radio 1 Session 1973) 6. Leaving Town Blues (Tribute track from Peter Green ‘Rattlesnake Guitar’ 1994) 7. As the Crow Flies (Unreleased track from Tattoo album sessions 1973) 8. Secret Agent (Unreleased acoustic version from RTE Irish TV 1976) 9. Should’ve Learnt My Lesson (Acoustic outtake from Deuce album sessions 1971) 10. Prison Blues (Unreleased track from Blueprint album sessions 1973) 11. Who’s That Coming (Acoustic outtake from Tattoo album sessions 1973) 12. I’m Ready (Guest guitarist on Muddy Waters ‘London Sessions’ album 1971) 13. What In The World (Unreleased track from Glasgow Apollo concert 1982) 14. Garbage Man Blues (Unreleased track from Sheffield City Hall concert 1977) 15. Born Under A Bad Sign (Unreleased track from Rockpalast 1991 w/ Jack Bruce)
2 LP / Limited Edition Blue Vinyl 2 LP Version
1. Don’t Start Me Talkin’ (Unreleased track from the Jinx album sessions 1982) 2. Nothin’ But The Devil (Unreleased track from the Against The Grain album sessions 1975) 3. Tore Down (Unreleased track from the Blueprint album sessions 1973) 4. Off The Handle (Unreleased session Paul Jones Show BBC Radio 1986)
1. A Million Miles Away (Unreleased BBC Radio 1 Session 1973) 2. Leaving Town Blues (Tribute track from Peter Green ‘Rattlesnake Guitar’ 1994) 3. I’m Ready (Guest guitarist on Muddy Waters ‘London Sessions’ album 1971) 4. As the Crow Flies (Unreleased track from Tattoo album sessions 1973)
1. Who’s That Coming (Acoustic outtake from Tattoo album sessions 1973) 2. Should’ve Learnt My Lesson (Acoustic outtake from Deuce album sessions 1971) 3. Prison Blues (Unreleased track from Blueprint album sessions 1973) 4. Secret Agent (Unreleased acoustic version from RTE Irish TV 1976)
1. What In The World (Unreleased track from Glasgow Apollo concert 1982) 2. Garbage Man Blues (Unreleased track from Sheffield City Hall concert 1977) 3. Born Under A Bad Sign (Unreleased track from Rockpalast 1991 w/ Jack Bruce)
Adam Carroll I Walked In Them Shoes Gypsy Shuffler Records
Raising the Flag and Bar For Texas Songwriting
Adam Carroll is a highly respected Texan songwriter, now releasing both his ninth, and tenth album this year, 2019. Good Farmer, an album he recorded with his wife, Chris Carroll, is being released next month, but before that you can check out I Walked In Them Shoes, recorded with some help from Lloyd Maines and Pat Manske. These songs on this particular album were all recorded in one session, and Adam’s spoken introductions give them a definite demo feel which works to good advantage here. It’s hard to go wrong with simple arrangements, sparse decoration, and a ‘vocals up front’ mix, and it also helps if the songs are as solid as these are. I doubt that a fuller arrangement on any of them would add anything, so why tamper with purity? “Iris and the Lonesome Stranger” is a familiar story told well, while “My Only Good Shirt” could be a song about passing the torch of songwriting and musicianship along. “Crescent City Angels” takes inspiration from New Orleans, but it’s the title song that got my attention the most. “I Walked In Them Shoes” eschews a traditional arrangement, and Carroll’s vocal take leaps over the finger-picked guitar runs throughout. This is definitely the most rock ‘n’ roll song on the album, fueled by attitude, a sincere feeling of accomplishment, and learning to roll with the punches. There’s been comparisons of Carroll to songwriters such as Guy Clark, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, and others, (Some even say he’s the best Texan songwriter ever. I’m not gonna go there, because Alejandro Escovedo has pretty much all of them beat!) but mostly these tunes remind me of lesser known songwriter Bob Frank’s best ones, though Carroll is assuredly less dirt floor than Frank, and probably not as barefoot either. What I do hear is Carroll’s gift for imbibing these songs with a genuineness of emotion and sincerity. He’s not as edgy as Townes, nor as funny as Prine, but he does has a gift at storytelling, and enough solid melodies to keep it interesting.
Very Articulate and Contemporary Americana With It’s Roots in Scotia.
As regular readers know I like to do things backwards; listening to the music before reading the Press Release, so I don’t have any preconceptions; and in this case it worked a treat as Ms. Reid has a famous father and an even more famous mentor who guests on a song here; (*whom I will name at the end) and may have ‘turned my head’ had I known this in advance. Opening track Amy, was apparantly written several years ago and in a simpler form won the prestigious Nashville based ‘International Song Contest; and it’s easy to see why it’s been selected to open this rather wonderful album; but why such worthy judges would pick it out of 160, 000 others! There’s a hint or two of other more established Americana songwriters in it’s construction and the way Roseanne breathlessly sings her narrative; but this is a top notch Americana song in it’s very own rite. Thankfully the quality doesn’t stop there; Roseanne covers an array of modern topics in her writing; but there’s a definite romantic thread running through most of the more memorable ones. Now, songs like the bouncy Me Oh My and Take It From Me aren’t ‘all lovey-dovey’ but only a confirmed romantic at heart could write these two songs, in my opinion. Songs about missing a loved one while on tour or working abroad are commonplace in not just Americana Music but are one of the cornerstones of Country and in Miles Away the warble in Roseanne’s cracked voice captures the very essence of how you feel in these circumstances; and in it’s own way heralds a new talent that is headed for great things. As is another won’t of mine, I listen to a lot of new music in my car; and when the 9th track Out in Space came on I found myself frowning and staring at the CD Player …….. Roseanne Reid is Scottish! Who knew? Prior to that she had sung in a non-denominational voice that simply had to come from Northern America surely, possibly even Canada …… but no, she actually comes from Dundee via Edinburgh and originally the Kingdom of Fife! While everything else errs on the Folkier side of Country and Americana; this beauteous couple of minutes shows Roseanne’s true Roots, and they are firmly embedded in the soil of Scotia. The following song turned my head 359 degrees in the other direction as I immediatly recognised the grizzled male voice duetting on the majestic Sweet Annie. Yep; that is/was Steve Earle! Even without him; it would be a stunning song; but now it has added gravitas that will surely get it airplay across the airwaves and interweb. For a debut album there are some very classy and it has to be said, mature songs here, with a couple really capturing my attention from day one. Take It From Me is a gorgeously swinging Country toe-tapper with a bit of New Orleans ‘swing’ in the background; making it come from the mould of someone like Laura Cantrell; as to some greater or lesser degree is Heading North; which certainly belies Ms Reid’s tender age. I very nearly went for Levi as my Favourite Song here, as it sounds a bit like it could have been a lost Band track; it isn’t…… but it’s certainly good enough. But no; with Mrs Magpie just having a ‘big birthday’ and our wedding anniversary just around the corner; I’m riding shotgun to Roseanne as she croons I Love Her So to her own life partner; and sitting here now wallowing in the emotion drenched 3 minutes I’m not sure if it’s Reid’s heartfelt words and vocals or Teddy Thompson’s exquisite and sensitive production that I like best; but put all three together and I now have a swelling in the heart region o my chest. In many ways this is a very understated album; and deliberately so as it leaves the listener to just wallow in the beauty of not just Roseanne Reid’s golden voice, but her rather wonderful songwriting too.
*Roseanne’s father is none other than Craig Reid of the Proclaimers and her mentor is Steve Earle whom she met at his songwriting workshops).