Boo Ray
Tennessee Alabama Fireworks
BRRB Music

Sparkling Country Tearjerkers and Heartbreakers.

Admit it; if you were in a record store and saw an album called Tennessee Alabama Fireworks by a guy called Boo Ray you’d pick it up, wouldn’t you?
I thought so…… and then you’d probably ask the assistant if you could hear a couple of tracks?
Trust me, as soon as you hear the pedal-steel that opens the catchy Truckin’ Tune; A Tune You Can Whistle it would have you reaching for your wallet; and when Boo Ray’s raspy vocals trample all over the Twangy geetar you would be throwing your cash across the counter and not waiting for the disc to put in a bag!
Well; that’s how I felt.
Boo Ray? I’ve not heard of him before; but that’s obviously my loss as he puts the Americana into Ameripolitan or whatever we are calling Country Music these days. He’s got a mighty clever way with words, as he croons all over the mellow ballad Honky Tonk Dream, then kicks up a storm on the apologetic love song 20 Questions without letting you catch your breath.
I haven’t checked, but I picture Boo Ray hiding behind a big ole pair of Aviator glasses; possibly even the Elvis type as he hides his tears on Gone Back Down to Georgia and the heartbreaking We Ain’t Got The Good too.
To all intents and purposes Don’t Look Back and Out Run the Wind is the type of Country Music you pray to hear in a bar on a Tuesday night, when there are more people on stage than in the audience, and those who are there, are there because they don’t want to go home; and Boo Ray sings from the heart just for them.
All of these songs could easily find their way onto those shiny albums that those guys with designer stubble and made to measure Stetson hats bring out every few weeks; but none of them can find the pathos in She Wrote the Song the way Boo Ray does; and when he sings,
“it’s the pain pills that took away my sweetheart/
it gives me cold chills/
I think I’m gonna leave a star.”
you will have cold chills yourself.
The biggest surprise for me here; is that the songs come in at 6, 7, 8 or even 9 minutes long; but don’t worry that this is a Prog whig out….. not in the slightest; Boo Ray just lets his songs breathe and develop in a way very few others are allowed these days; and my own favourite song Skin & Ink which closes the disc is a mighty 8 minutes and 19 seconds long; but like everything that has gone before it…… not a single word or note shouldn’t be there.
If you are of my generation and discovered Country Music via the Country Rock acts of the late 70’s and 80’s like the Allmans, Skynard or Creedence then this album is meant for you. Great songs, sung with passion and from the heart by a leathery voice and a band that has the ability to stop your heart on a whim.

Released 15th February 2019



Kalyn Fay
Good Company
Horton Records

The Sound of An Oklahoma Lonely Heart.

It doesn’t happen as often as you’d think; but this album arrived on the from not just it’s American publicist but the British one too on the same day last month; both of whom only work with ‘interesting and articulate’ artistes, so it had to be worth a listen.
Sadly, because of work commitments and an ever increasing backlog of other albums I’ve struggled to find the time to give GOOD COMPANY the time I felt it deserved, until much earlier this morning……. sitting eating breakfast in the conservatory as the sun rose in a beautiful clear Winter sky.
Timing is everything; and the title track, Good Company was the perfect accompaniment as Kalyn’s smoky world-weary voice telling a tale of someone at a crossroads in their life questioning what the future holds, was just what I needed to hear.
Now I’ve played the CD three times, and writing during the fourth it’s apparent that that song is the gateway to what follows; as Ms Fay dictates her thoughts on many things in a very intimate and personal manner, none more so than Come Around which might even conjure up memories of Roy Orbison’s darker masterworks.
By her standards Highway Driving is uptempo and very nearly a ‘rocker’; but the tale of the pleasure you get from driving late at night, interspersed with electric guitar solos that sound like a bullwhip Kalyn describes that fragile loneliness like nothing I’ve ever heard before; but can associate with perfectly.
In the Press Release Kalyn describes these songs as being ‘quintessentially Oklahoma’ and they probably must be, as a couple have a slight ‘Native America’ melody from her Cherokee heritage in them; but Long Time Coming, Faint Memory and of course Oklahoma Hills when you delve deep into their lyrics are as international as they come and will resonate with listeners all over the world; such is Kalyn Fay’s magical way with words and storytelling.
There is also a cover song here; and an old personal favourite…… although I didn’t actually recognise it. Well, you wouldn’t would you? Kalyn’s warm purr turns Malcolm Holcombe’s grizzled Dressed In White into something Gothic, but warm hearted too; which is quite an achievement.
You must get tired of me saying that ‘this is an album that needs to be heard in it’s fullness, rather than cherry picking songs on streaming sites’; but it’s true. This is a fully formed ‘grown up record’; Kalyn’s’s second and songs like Alright In The End, Wait For Me and Baby, Don’t You Worry are all wonderful little vignettes; but heard in context alongside or juxtaposing each other are heard in a completely different light.
That theory is the same with my Favourite Song here, Fool’s Heartbreak. It’s everything you would hope it would be with a title like that; and could easily be the type of 45 we would play on repeat for an hour on end as heartbroken teenagers; but here as it tail ends the disc and as it’s steel-guitar and Hammond B3 plus Kalyn’s honey covered voice bleed into Holcombe’s Dressed in White it will crush you, but also let you know that you’re not alone out there…… Kalyn is suffering with you.
In 2019 Kalyn Fay sits very comfortably in the section marked Americana; but there’s so much more here; in my younger years she would sit in the Singer-Songwriter section somewhere between Linda Ronstadt, Melanie and Emmylou Harris.

Released February 15th 2019


Buffalo Blood
Buffalo Blood
Eel Pie Records

Haunting and Majestic Songs of America’s Ghosts.

There is something to be said about getting inspiration from traveling to specific locales. And when you’re an artist, sensitive to the spiritual vibrations resonating from within certain spaces where the emotions have run high, you can — hopefully — tap into that energy and gain insight and revelation to events, people, and feelings from another time.
Imagine an author writing about a haunted house while staying inside a supposedly haunted house. Or a painter working on his art while setting up in the very same spots where Vincent Van Gogh created some of his iconic paintings. It is thought by some that some spaces soak up the emotions and thoughts of the beings that resided there, just waiting for the correct energy to show up, to release them from within their patient waiting, to bring light to their darkness. Different places have different emanating energies. 
There is a lot of spiritual energy residing in the canyons and rocky plains of New Mexico. A lot of history, a lot of ghosts to inhabit those wide open spaces and wide screen horizons. Now imagine a group of musicians and songwriters traveling along the Trail of Tears, a pilgrimage of sorts, to write and record songs influenced by Native American culture, specifically the feelings of loss, abandonment, and cruelty brought on by “civilization.” There is a kinship here between this album and Mary Gauthier’s Rifles and Rosary Beads, another album about hard truths with no easy answers.
This is Buffalo Blood, an album by Neilson Hubbard, Dean Owens, Joshua Britt, Audrey Spillman, and James DeMain whose work together on this fine collection of songs and sounds are exemplary to say the least. These songs were written in the dry heat of the desert canyons of New Mexico, on Georgia O’Keefe’s aptly named Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, in the shadows of historic La Plaza Blanca. If you listen closely, you can hear the occasional bird or the shifting of the wind caught on these recordings as they were all recorded outside in these haunting, beautiful, stark places. What they have crafted here is new folk songs utilizing guitar, mandolin, and some excellent percussion, tied to haunting vocals, and thrilling, spot-on whistling. That’s right, I said whistling. And this ain’t no Spaghetti Western rip-off, either, this is true blue, dyed in the wool, horseback riding, deep in the canyons type of whistling where the echo bounces back at you and hits you in your gut. The real deal. Just like the percussion on this album, probably my favorite ingredient on the whole thing. You don’t need a standard drum kit when you have percussion this simple, strong, decisive. The beat of the drums here is the backbone of the continent. The majestic chanting is the spirits of the land given voice. 
It’s difficult to find a favorite song here. “Ten Killer Ferry Lake” is ghostly wails amidst wind on the rocks (I’m thinking this one was recorded at night, under a multitude of stars, you can hear the sand being blown into the mics. I hope this was recorded like this, even if not, I’m going to continue to imagine it was, because it just feels so right.) “Reservations” concerns itself with the plight of the modern day descendants of those who walked the Trail of Tears, pulling no punches with its language: “White men wanted everything, white men never listened to us, now our way of life is gone… ” and “Many things were said, treaties signed and broken, buffalo days are dead and gone… ” “Comanche Moon” picks up where that song left us, not exactly bitter, but not broken either. “Buffalo Thunder” begins with whistling wind and a far off desert storm before harmonized wordless chanting and ominous whistling disappears into the reverb. But my favorite song here might just be “Daughter of the Sun,” a desert fable dressed in a simple, heartfelt melody. This one reads as if it’s as old as the hills it was recorded in, a true testament to the musicians involved. 
I’m loving the focus given to these songs, the stark detail, the willingness of the musicians and production team to leave themselves emotionally open to the experiences required to bring this album to life. 

Review Courtesy Roy Peak esq.
Released 15th Feb 2019

Hayes Carll WHAT IT IS

Hayes Carll
What It Is

Country Rocking That Won’t Ever Fade Away.

It’s always baffled me as to why some songwriters have the ability to make their songs sound as if you’ve known them all your life, although it was only 40 minutes ago you first placed the platter onto the turntable.
Such is the way with Hayes Carll’s sixth album What It Is.
I only discovered his talents two years ago via the Lovers & Leavers album; which made me buy a couple of his earlier albums as downloads.
If you’ve ever seen the film or read the book High Fidelity, you’ll know that one of the things the guys in the shop like doing is making lists, and a popular one is ‘Great Opening Tracks’ and I’m going to throw None’ya into that hat! On most other albums this terrific song about a crumbling relationship would easily be my Favourite Track; but it actually doesn’t even make the Top 3 on this disc!
I have to say I wasn’t quite prepared for the punchy Rock & Roll of the second song Times Like These! After three or four plays it hit me that it’s actually quite a political song; with a wild Jerry Lee Lewis vocal performance and a very danceable melody too.
Two songs in and you already have your head spun 360 degrees; as Hayes Carll shows his rare talent as both a solo performer and a bandleader too.
I guess it would be quite some late night argument as to whether Hayes Carll is first and foremost a singer or a songwriter. I think on this album it’s actually a score draw; as I can’t remember him singing any better than on the Honky Tonking Rocking & Rolling Beautiful Thing or the swinging Country-Folk of American Dream, which is also full of pithy observations of the country he now finds himself living in.
Then again his songwriting (or co-writing……. my Advance copy doesn’t say who wrote what; but Matraca Berg, Adam Landry and Allison Moorer are in the mix here somewhere too) is more mature and possibly more observational than I remember; with If I May Be So Bold and the gentle love song I Will Stay being prime examples of someone at the very top of their game.
If you want a Country song that will break your heart, look no further than Be There; it’s one of the very few I’ve heard in recent years that isn’t ‘paint by numbers’ and the way it builds and builds via a tight band and an orchestra, reminds me of Buddy Holly’s transition from straight forward Rock n Roller into Superstar territory, and speaking of Country songs……. Carll even makes me like the banjo again via the sparkling title track What It Is; although with a song this good he could bang a dustbin lid and I’d still like it.
Being the contrary so & so I am I can’t choose None’ya as my Favourite Song nor the immaculate Jesus & Elvis …. because everyone else will; as well as them being the songs you will hear on the wireless; no…… I’m going left of centre with Fragile Men, which somehow mixes all kinds of weird elements via a pedal-steel, a violin encased inside a big cinematic orchestral shroud; a’la Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits; and leaves you gasping for breath.
The song that immediatly follows, Wild Pointy Finger doesn’t have that orchestral backdrop; but just like Fragile Men takes us into unknown territory for an Americana songwriter; and one he appears to revel in!
On the one hand this is possibly Hayes Carll’s most commercial album to date; but when you peel away the veneer it’s very much a turning point and heralds a glorious future for this very accomplished young man.

Released February 15th 2019

The Felice Brothers UNDRESS (Single)

The Felice Brothers
Undress (Single)
Yep Roc

Yippee Why Aye Music Lovers! There’s a new Felice Brothers album on the way…….. and here’s the title track Undress, for your personal delectation.

Plus…. here’s what they have to say about the album:
“Cut live to tape with very little overdubbing, Undress was recorded in the late summer of 2018 in Germantown, New York. Band members Ian Felice, James FeliceWill Lawrence (drums) and Jesske Hume (bass) teamed up with producer Jeremy Backofen to record their most personal and reflective album to date.

“Many of the songs on the new album are motivated by a shift from private to public concerns,” says songwriter Ian Felice. “It isn’t hard to find worthwhile things to write about these days, there are a lot of storms blooming on the horizon and a lot of chaos that permeates our lives.  The hard part is finding simple and direct ways to address them.”

Undress follows the band’s 2016 album Life In The Dark, and finds the group in a very different place three years later. Between personnel changes, families growing and the political landscape, the result is a tighter, more-paired down release. “Every song is a story,” said James Felice. “On this album everything was a bit more thoughtful, including the arrangements, the sonic quality and the harmonies.”

Album released May 3rd 2019

Roses & Cigarettes ECHOES AND SILENCE

Roses & Cigarettes
Echoes and Silence

Passion Ain’t No Ordinary Word For These LA Rockers.

As per my usual way; I had played this album a couple of times before bothering to read the accompanying Press Release; and that’s quite fortuitous as I’d more than made up my mind about the songs before reading the ‘back story’ of LA musicians Jenny Pagliaro and Angela Petrilli, who take their ‘Band Name’ from a Ray LaMontagne song.
Basically I liked the album cover and was vaguely aware these girls were ‘Rockers’ of the West Coast variety; and within 30 seconds of hearing Fast As I Can in the car on a sun soaked Wintry afternoon I knew I was in for a treat. Tightly wrapped guitars, punchy drumming, a diesel powered bass and a singer who could charm the birds from the trees……. what’s not to like?
As is the way with West Coast Rock; there’s a few very personal ‘Power Ballads’ like Bye Bye Blackbird and Back To You interspersed between some good ‘ole foot on the accelerator Driving Music.
Roses and Cigarettes manage to slip and slide between both genres with consummate ease, and it has to be said when I heard Feel The Fire and California Going Home, that afternoon and again today ………CLASS too.
It would be all too easy to say Roses & Cigarettes sound a bit like Whitney Rose or the Bangles (they do); but for us of an older generation there’s a lot more of Pat Benatar and Melissa Etheridge in here too…….. listen to the title track Echoes and Silence and you too will be taken back to a time when curly hair and stonewashed jeans were de riguer for a man about town, like yours truly!
Not that these songs sound ‘dated’ in the slightest; no, no and thrice no! Pagliaro and Petrilli can write a song that’s simply timeless but with 21st Century Roots-Rocking ‘bite’ to the lyrics and perfect for playing either in the car, or late at night when you are wooing or being wooed.
Tucked away in the middle is a cracker of a duet with ‘Guest Star’ Marc Broussard; Stranded……… it’s the type of song that you’d expect to close the CMA’s or Americana Awards and not leave a dry eye in the house.
Two particular songs really show Roses and Cigarettes special talents, yet come from opposite ends of the Soft Rock spectrum; the gorgeous tearjerker of a ballad Love Song and the atmospherically windswept Whispers in the Wind (Stacie’s song) which closes the disc, are both very special indeed.
There’s no better reason for buying this album other than it’s a damn fine bunch of songs that will appeal to every generation of guitar based Country Rock/Soft Rock.
Or is there?
*Here’s the ‘kick in the teeth’ that I discovered from the Press Release.
After getting some pretty good major league support slots following their 2015 album release singer Jenny Pagliaro was diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer; but following intensive treatment and a battling personality she ‘beat it’……….only for it to come back even more violently while recording these songs ……….. and she is now in hospital with Stage IV of the same bastard of an illness.

Released February 22nd 2019


Gurf Morlix
Impossible Blue
Rootball Records

An Americana Album of Classic Proportions.

Here’s a name y’all know……. Mr. Gurf Morlix, Record Producer Extraordinaire, but he’s also a famed songwriter and judging by this, his TENTH solo album…… a mighty fine singer too (and that’s all before I tell you he plays every bloody instrument here barring drums and the Hammond B3!).
Normally I would hate someone so talented; but with Gurf Morlix…… I just can’t get past the fact that I love him and his warm growl of a voice.
Opening song, the swirling and rocking Turpentine very nearly stopped my heart and it really did stop me breathing for 30 seconds while I was gripped listening to Morlix’s words on a very twisted love song.
Here’s the chorus……”Your kisses taste like turpentine!” Twisted love song? Hell yeah!
After all these years listening to music I still remain totally baffled as to why an album by a singer (in this case Gurf Morlix) can hit me so instantaneously, as if I’ve known the songs all my life, yet other albums which sound very similar either take time to capture my attention or pass me by altogether.
What is this witchcraft?
Like many of the people he works with, Morlix really is a Master-craftsman when it comes to creating a song, making really intelligent and thought provoking prose like Sliver of Light or Spinnin’ Planet Blues sound quite simple and even ‘easy on the ear,’ until you find yourself going “Oh!” and then taking the track back to the beginning and listening so intently you’d think you were discovering the meaning of life.
For a solo album Morlix can still Rock & Roll like a band; his self-depreciating tale of surviving a heart attack; My Heart Keeps Poundin’ will surely find its way onto forthcoming albums by some of our more feted Alt. Country bands who will see it as a single layered Love Song; when there is so much more hiding in the shadows of each groove.
Much like the other three Gurf Morlix albums I own, IMPOSSIBLE BLUE will come out occasionally but regularly over the years to come when the likes of I Saw You, with it’s spine of torrid jealousy spring to mind and only Gurf’s wise words will satisfy my cravings.
But then he also writes and delivers songs of the Alt. Noir variety that very few others can come close to; I’m a Ghost is a complete blockbuster wrapped up in 6 glorious minutes; and if I still had my radio show I would link it directly to Bottom of the Musquash River for the best/worst 11 minutes of radio you will ever hear in this lifetime.
I’ve only played this album three times before sitting here on a cold wintry Sunday morning and ‘I got it’ from the get go; but nothing prepared me for the final song here Backbeat of the Dispossessed. A very personal song to Gurf, as it’s for and about a close friend Michael Bannister who died recently; but such is the writer’s way with words this extraordinary song will mean something very personal to many people who will think of their own loved ones when they hear it.
And none of them are even close to being my Favourite Song!
That award goes to the sublime and intense 2 Hearts Beating In Time; a love song of a variety that has been written many times before but Morlix captures the unspoken words many of us feel; but can’t either let go or actually enunciate; but Gurf speaks for all of us.
It is still only February 3rd and this album is already a contender for the Year End Top 20 and should; but won’t be in the runners and riders for all of the Awards Ceremonies …… sad but true; but you and me will know how brilliant this man and his 10th Album actually is.

Released February 8th 2019


Deer Tick
Partisan Records

A Magical Journey Through the Looking Glass.

Last year’s interesting Double, or was it two seperate albums from Rhode Island’s finest; Deer Tick opened a door, not just for me but Deer Tick themselves it appears.
For a variety of reasons that aren’t particularly clear, they have rearranged a few songs from those two albums so that they are now virtually unrecognisable from the originals, added some brand new musings and cobbled them together with some really fascinating cover versions for this latest release.
Not knowing what to expect; but liking a lot of last years releases I pressed play on my I-Phone and what came out of the car stereo was initially a Bluesy ramble, that soon became a sensory onslaught that soon had me turning the dial to the left!
Bluesboy (or Spirals as the Press Release calls it) is the sort of Pearl Jam/Nirvana quiet/loud/loud/quiet/loud song that Son #1 would play far too loud in his bedroom 20 years ago; then it’s immediatly followed by a winsome slice Rock-Folkery with both a melody and a chorus called Limp Right Back, which leads us into a journey through the looking glass of what makes Deer Tick tick.
While that first song gives the impression that Deer Tick are shoe gazing Rockers; but at heart I think they are really post-Hippy Folkies brought up on a diet of Gram era Country music; as that’s the real direction they take us in.
These guys are good; really good and have a ballistic range when it comes to writing songs; Old Lady and Hey Yeah! are polar opposites with the latter being quite poppy by comparison, but both are commercial enough for what used to be called Student Radio.
We also get a bit of Country-Rock on the final two songs, the alternate version of Doomed From the Start conjures up images the Nevada Desert at twilight and album closer Cocktail, featuring the sublime pedal-steel of Spencer Collum Jr. is such a heady mix it could be The Burritos covering a Jimmy Buffet song at midnight in Vegas hotel lounge, as your lady friend has just disappeared with the young bartender.
I think it’s fair to say that Deer Tick’s choice of songs to cover is eclectic; but when you hear them pay homage to the Pogues on White City, turn the Velvet’s Pale Blue Eyes into a pseudo-Native American hymnal while also unearthing a George Harrison soft-rocker called Run of the Mill you understand how their distinctive sound (in all its glory) has evolved.
This hasn’t been a particularly ‘easy listen’ for me; but the sum of the piece is better than the constituent parts in many ways, although two songs especially stand out.
The first is one of their new songs, the wordy Strange, Awful Feeling and the other is a cover of a song from Ben Vaughn whom I’d not heard of before hearing Deer Tick turn Too Sensitive For This World into a spine-tingling Lo-Fi/ Alt. Rock/Indie hybrid that has me yearning for a whole album in the vein of these two beauties.

Released February 1st 2019

JJ Cale CHASING YOU (Single)

JJ Cale
Chasing You (single)
Because Music

What’s left to say about JJ Cale? And, in my humble opinion…… what’s not to like?
Perhaps ‘exciting’ is the wrong word to describe a new release from the man who single-handedly invented ‘laid back’ Roots music; but I was bloody excited this morning when this video arrived in advance of a new album of ‘out-takes’ due for release on April 26th.

” Because Music will release ‘Stay Around’, the first posthumous album by beloved songwriter, guitarist, and singer JJ Cale, on 26th April. ‘Stay Around’ is compiled by those closest to Cale, his widow and musician Christine Lakeland Cale and friend and longtime manager, Mike Kappus. Because Music today released the official video for the album’s debut single, ‘Chasing You’, featuring footage of Cale touring (which he seldom did) and performing across the U.S. The video is a breezily bittersweet glimpse at the life of the artist who died in 2013 and left behind a vital, resounding legacy. “
All tracks on ‘Stay Around’are previously unreleased, a fact that’s not unusual considering Cale’s modus operandi: often Cale would reserve outtakes from one album for later release on another. Mike Kappus, who managed Cale for 30 years and has worked with his estate since his passing, explains, “‘Roll On,’ the title track of Cale’s last studio album, was 34 years old. He would burn me CDs of demos, and one time I said, ‘You’ve got two good albums on here.’ Some of the tracks had detailed information, some of them had nothing. Some songs might be a full band of his buddies, others were him playing everything. These were songs he really did intend to do something with because they were carried to his typical level of production for release.”

JJ Cale – Stay Around

  1. Lights Down Low
  2. Chasing You
  3. Winter Snow
  4. Stay Around 
  5. Tell You ‘Bout Her
  6. Oh My My
  7. My Baby Blues
  8. Girl Of Mine
  9. Go Downtown
  10. If We Try
  11. Tell Daddy
  12. Wish You Were Here
  13. Long About Sundown
  14. Maria
  15. Don’t Call Me Joe

Released April 26th 2019

The Delines JHC at Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle.

The Delines
Gosforth Civic Theatre
Monday 28th January 2019

In all of 2018 I only managed to get to six gigs; and this week I plan on going to three; of which seeing the Delines on the back of their second album THE IMPERIAL, was always going to be a highlight of not just January, but my year.
The night got off to a bad start when I arrived to find the venue’s car park decimated and only about 1/6 the size it was in November meaning I had a panicky 10 minutes finding a space in a side street; then desperately trying to memorise the route for later in the evening.
Then I found the lobby packed beyond belief making a much need trip to the toilet something of a battlefield experience, as them pensioners ain’t giving up their private space for nothing or nobody!
Enough of my entry………..
The support act was something of a surprise to me (and the promoter!); as Willy Vlautin had met an old friend, Scottish Folk singer Alisdair Roberts the previous night in Glasgow for the first time in ten years and said, “Hey! Do you know what would be cool? Join us on tour!”
Well; what was a great idea for Willy wasn’t so good for me. I’m sure what Alisdair does is truly excellent in Ye Olde Folk Worlde, but his dour and ‘worthy,’ ‘finger in the ear’ ministrations were anathema to my delicate ears, and after being shushed and tsked from some very reverential music lovers as I whispered to my mate John, I left him and them to go to the bar for a coffee and a bag of crisps.
It appears that there was only a tiny gap between acts; as I missed the Delines first song because I was waiting for a rush to the bar that never materialised!
When I did venture back into the main hall, Amy Boone was just about to go into I Won’t Slip Up; and within seconds I was mesmerised by her presence and majestic voice as she purred the words while she clenched her fists to suppress the dark emotions she was singing about.
My notes say they performed 15 songs in about 90 minutes; with a careful balance between both COLFAX and the latest release The Imperial; and ‘performance’ is the perfect way to describe how each individual song and story is delivered.
While the Cult of Vlautin devotees were salivating at seeing their leader in the flesh; Willy, like me; knows that The Delines is really Amy Boone’s band, which is why the be-suited genius prefers to remain hunched over his Gibson SG in the shadows allowing the singer to shine like a flawed diamond in the spotlight.
While there wasn’t a single thing wrong with the ‘older songs’ like Wichita Ain’t So Far Away or indeed the magical The Oil Rigs at Night, the newer songs seem more fully formed, designed and created specifically for Amy Boone to bring to life like Spring flowers.
Vlautin’s songwriting talent shines through in the imagery he creates in Eddie & Polly and the wonderfully melancholic song about ‘our times’ Holly The Hustle; and I can’t think of anyone this side of Tom Waits or Randy Newman who could take the subject matter of Cheer Up Charlie and turn it into such a darkly beautiful song, as he does and Amy Boone brings to life.
While the songs are often dark and seedy; there are still laughs a’plenty in the intros; with Amy saying they were considering making their first video for ‘Cheer Up Charlie’ but none of them wanted to appear on screen, which led to a chucklesome couple of minutes with Willy deciding Harry Dean Stanton would play him and drummer Sean bagged the Karate Kid!
I don’t remember who Amy wanted; but surely it would have to be Susan Sarandon? No?
Thankfully we have the generic terms ‘Roots and Americana’ because I’m damned if I can think of a category to easily put The Delines into. There’s definitely Country sensibilities of the Gothic persuasion to Don’t Mess Around With Me; but when Amy Boone crooned He Don’t Burn For Me she criss-crossed Jazz, Blues and Soul with effortless grace and when the evening ended with Colfax Avenue followed by the tenderness of Let’s Be Us Again this modern theatre was turned into a late night Gin Joint full of sad-eyed lovers and losers sitting amid over flowing ashtrays and empty glasses as Vlautin and Boone’s words stung their hearts and souls.
What a night…….. try as I might I will never understand why bands this talented are playing venues (albeit Sold Out) that hold 4-500 people and patently less talent acts are filling Arenas and Festivals.
But, The Delines can be our special secret!