Good Luck Charm
New West Records
The True Sound of New-Country
Probably best known as Steve Earle’s sidekicks in his touring band the Dukes and Duchesses husband and wife, Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore aka The Mastersons should be stars in their own rite by now.
I first saw them at the Jumping Hot Club in 2012 and their album Birds Fly South crashed into the Top 10 of many influential reviewers that Christmas.
With their latest disc, Good Luck Charm the duo has somehow managed to create an even stronger and lyrically astute bunch of songs (and tunes).
Kicking off with the title track the song sounds pure Country, but straight outta East Nashville rather than Music Row.
It’s similar with the breathlessly sexy Closer to You, which follows. In my humble opinion Eleanor’s voice has never sounded finer and Chris’s guitar chops through a really tight rhythm section that includes some pretty cool organ playing from John Ginty.
Seen live the Mastersons can kick up quite a dust storm for a duo and on this record there’s the sense that it’s been made by an actual band who have played together for years.
I don’t know how I felt when my wife asked if this was Fleetwood Mac when I played it in the car. With hindsight I can see how Eleanor could be mistaken for Stevie Nicks on songs like If I Wanted To and perhaps Nobody Knows; but personally I much prefer the warmth in Ms Whitmore’s voice when it soars into the ether.
One particular song has become something of an ‘earworm’ (as the young people say) and that’s Uniform; where the pair harmonise like twins on a song that tells a really sad story.
Two songs tie for the accolade of ‘favourite;’ first is the utterly charming I Found You on which both share lead vocals. Eleanor’s gentle violin playing makes this gentle Country love song something very special indeed; then later her violin again turns a great song into something truly exceptional. The detail in the lyrics is fascinating and the song pans out into a proper melodrama.
Country Music comes in many variants and The Mastersons manage to ride several at once; without ever sounding out of place. The quality of musicianship throughout added to Jim Scott’s expert production and mixing has created another contender for Album of The Year by The Mastersons.
Released June 2014
SAGE GATESHEAD – 19th October with Steve Earle