Triple country-fried foot-stompin’ blues and folk
From the opening bars of “Stranger”, you know you are going to be in for a rocking good time; and when “Goodbye Old Friend” closes the proceeding, I defy anyone not to be smiling from ear to ear.
There’s a little bit of everything here. Record store owners will be left scratching their heads as to what to file I’m a Stranger Here under, as there are blues-influenced hillbilly songs (“Forty Days”) and folk songs that are pure country (“Stranger”), but the overall feeling is goodtime music, wherever you’d file that.
“Dead Body Moving” is a joy on the ears with Miss Lucia Turina nearly ripping the strings off her double bass as Casey Driessen makes smoke come from his fiddle and Pete Bernhard uses his warm and friendly voice like a separate instrument. This is a song to hunt out.
“Spinning Like a Top” follows a similar path and is as country as a country love song can be. It sounds like it was recorded at a hoedown or county fair. Toes will tap wherever it’s played.
There’s a Gypsy jazz feel to the guitar playing on “Mr. Midnight”, but it still fits into the groove perfectly well.
My favourite track — the foot-stompin’ “Hallelu” — also has that Gypsy feel to it. But, this time, Pete Bernhard goes all gospel on us. When everyone joins in on the chorus, I found myself shouting along as I drove down the motorway.
I’ve managed to get this far without mentioning the fantastic cover artwork or the production on I’m a Stranger Here. The production is exceptional, highlighting each voice and instrument without taking anything away from the feeling that this is a group effort. But, what else would you expect from Buddy Miller, who also supplies soul-affirming guitar throughout.
As I said in the opening paragraph, this is a rocking good album from start to finish and will be on many end-of-year Top 10’s.