Old Salt Union – OLD SALT UNION

old salt union

Old Salt Union
OLD SALT UNION
Compass Records

It’s Bluegrass Jim; But Not As We Know It.

Any band that features a horticulturist, a hip-hop producer and a relative of Son Volts Jay Farrar has to be worth a listen, hasn’t it?. The audience for a show at one of the Bluegrass nights at The Ryman theatre in Nashville in June certainly thought so, as they packed the street and area outside the front of the venue for a good hour before going inside to see Old Salt Union, who feature some classically trained musicians but it was the special arrangements of their original tunes and sheer energy that kept the audience on the pavement on that sultry summer night in June.

This album features some of the tunes that have been building audiences across festivals and shows like Bluegrass underground, Freshgrass and Yonder Mountains Harvest Festival. To describe them as Bluegrass misses the point. They aren’t Newgrass, Psycograss, Old Timey or even Folk. There are elements of each of those styles in their playing from the out and out bluegrassy Where I Stand (with memorable harmonies under the melody) to the surprise cover of “You Can Call Me Al”, the Paul Simon tune.

They won’t be the first string band to deliver a creditable cover of Paul Simon; but this one is pretty special indeed. Greensky Bluegrass have featured Gumboots, among many covers in and out of their sets for a good while now,

Old Salt Union’s version is no bad thing. The band have a traditional set up of fiddle, mandolin, upright bass, guitar and banjo. if you want to see their real bluegrass heritage checkout their version of ‘Whiskey Before Breakfast’ on You Tube.

They deliver a masterful ballad in “Bought and Sold” and it’s this restraint that shows off the real talent in the band.

The albums one instrumental, “Flat Baroque”, features some fine twin mandolin too,  and to quote Alison Brown “While they may look like a bluegrass band, their musical sensibilities run much deeper and broader, borrowing as much from indie rock and jazz fusion as from Bill Monroe” And, lets be fair, Alison Brown knows a thing or two.

Courtesy Special Reviewer Tony Pearce.

Released August 4th 2017

https://www.oldsaltunion.com/

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John Murry – A Short History of Decay

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John Murry
A Short History of Decay
TV RECORDS

John Murry got a lot of mileage out of his last album by playing the ex-junkie card, doing his damnedest to ruin his life, with that hint of a hope for redemption thrown in for good measure. It’s the same thing this time around, but at least he’s sincere about it. For me what makes him significant is more his unwillingness to compromise, his fearless drive, his talent for writing the kind of songs that make you think and feel at the same time. He delivers emotional performances that are rooted in realness, not fake histrionics masquerading as “emotive performance.” He takes chances. He doesn’t do anything unless he’s 100% into it. John Murry is a bit of a throwback and I mean that in a good way. His latest album, A Short History of Decay, isn’t as majestic, nor as noisy as Murry’s previous album, The Graceless Age, but is consistent throughout with a deep, dark throb and has a more pronounced dark country-western bent to the music. Murry is still writing with his heart—and often his gut—on his sleeve.

“Silver or Lead” starts out the album with understated guitar and a disjointed rhythm. Murry’s voice is all low growl and hopelessness. “Under a Darker Moon” is the closest we get to pop on this album, albeit Murry’s version of shattered pop with over-squeezed guitar and actually humorous lyrics as if Murry is openly mocking his own back story. The beautiful piano line on “Miss Magdalene” contrasted with the sizzling organ is a gorgeous counterpoint that needs no words to get its point across. The strongest tracks are where Murry’s sound and fury can barely be contained. Timidness, nor understatement aren’t his strong suits, but he does his best with them. “Defacing Sunday Bulletins” is a glorious, rolling noise-fest. Shattered cymbals and relentless, knife slice guitars. “Wrong Man” sounds like a lost Springsteen song from the Nebraska era, but with more contempt and acid. Murry’s previous, The Graceless Age, ended with a cover of “Thorn Tree in the Garden” by Bobby Whitlock and Murry keeps things consistent this time around by ending with a cover of the Afghan Whigs “What Jail is Like.” Murry has an ear for picking covers that work well with his other material, this one would even work on The Graceless Age, as it matches the sentiments on that album very nicely. And for a cover, this one song seems more personal and affords a deeper intimacy to the listener than the rest of the album, such is Murry’s power as a performer to bring out the smallest detail of a song and wring it full of personal meaning.

The choice of producer here, Michael Timmins, of the Cowboy Junkies, may seem at odds to Murry’s revved up dark soul searchings and primal therapy performances and, yeah, they kind of are. Murry’s darknesses are a fuzzy lot and require shadows from which to reveal themselves. A number of critics are praising the darkness and turmoil on this album, yet in my opinion, it pales considerably in comparison to Murry’s earlier output. He’s somewhat sleepwalking through this one, as if he’s too numb to do anything but feel his way down the hall with eyes shut, afraid to fall, where on The Graceless Age the entire album was like a headlong leap off a cliff and who cares or knows what’s at the bottom, but let’s find out. And if you want dark, it doesn’t get any darker than 2006’s World Without End, an entire album of true life murder ballads which Murry recorded with songwriter Bob Frank. THAT album can induce nightmares aplenty. And listen, if you’re brave enough, to “The Murder of Dylan Hartsfeld” from Murry’s earlier EP, Califorlornia, which is eight gruelling minutes of a terrible story made all the more sadder and darker when you find out it’s a TRUE story. Murry knows how to dance with demons, often giving them their due and keeping them on the run. He’s on the trail of hellhounds, and shows no fear. Or at least he can when he wants to. So yeah, I’m a little torn on this one. A lot of good, a lot of “could have been better.” This is still a good album, Murry is still a talented songwriter and riveting performer, but I’m still holding out for the next one.

Review Courtesy Guest Reviewer Roy Peak esq.

Released July 24th 2017
http://www.johnmurry.com

Slaid Cleaves – GHOSTS ON THE CAR RADIO

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Slaid Cleaves
GHOSTS ON THE CAR RADIO
Candy House Media/Proper Records

The Voice of the Working Man Distilled Through Some Beautiful Songs.

Where does the time go? It only seems like the blink of an eye since I first heard Slaid Cleaves singing Horseshoe Lounge on the More Sounds of the New West CD that was given away with Uncut magazine in January 2001 and proved a gateway into Americana music for me. That gorgeous world weary voice that I know every nuance of now returns with his 13th (?) album in nearly 27 years.
As the owner of 11 of those discs it was with more than a little bit of nervous excitement that I slid the disc into the player. I waited with baited breath and was pleasantly surprised to hear him fronting a band on Already Gone; a bit of an intense Alt. Country rocker that brought back happy memories of some of his earlier albums.
Always an advocate of other songwriters Slaid first introduced us to the works of Karen Poston many years ago and here her Little Guys fits in perfectly well as Slaid recounts the sad story of a guy called Butch who was ‘pumping gas in first grade’ and could ‘rebuild a carburetor by the time he was 12 years old’ in the family auto-service centre and now 40 years later he has inherited the business just as the corporations and complicated regulations have taken over and he has to consider giving it all up. A story that I hear over and over again these days; but the way Slaid inhabits the character left me with a funny feeling in my stomach and a tear in my eye.
While a mighty fine songwriter himself; Cleaves includes four songs from his best friend since school days; Rod Picott.
One of which, the single Drunken Barbers Hand is a whole new direction for both and includes some ghostly harmonies and impressive guitar interludes from producer Scrappy Judd Newcomb while Slaid pores his heart out in the vocal department.
Another from Picott’s pen, Take Home Pay explores a blue collar workers struggles to make ends for his family; and even considers ‘going to the blood bank’ or ‘selling pills to red-eye truckers’ in a song that really captures the current mood across the world.
It’s not just Cleaves’ expressive way with words that I love; but the subject matter in songs like the beautiful To Be Held and Hickory that make him a Master-craftsman in this dark art.
As an unadulterated fan; there’s nothing here I don’t like and didn’t expect any other outcome; but if you don’t already know his work try listening to Primer Gray; an age old story of a man following in his own fathers footsteps by inheriting a Pontiac ’74 that his own son doesn’t want. Heartbreaking and beautiful in equal measures.
The title of ‘favourite song’ is a difficult one as two songs tugged at my heart strings for different reasons. The first, If I Had a Heart harks back to some of my favourite sorrowful songs from his earlier works and includes the line “If I had a heart/You’d be breaking it now.” Wow……how insightful is that? Then play out the song to a moving backing band and you have a song that is totally unforgettable.
The other; is a jaunty slice of old-timey Country with Slaid singing about The Old Guard who hang out at Dickies Bar, playing George and Hank on the Jukebox talking about Sports and the weather; until the kids play ‘their fast modern tunes/as the floors bounce.’ Slaid’s voice has never sounded better, in my humble opinion on a song that will surely feature on any upcoming Best Of album and of course his concerts and will have fans of all ages smiling and nodding along in agreement.
Part of me wants to say that this is ‘much of a muchness’ with Slaid Cleave’s previous albums; and to some degree it is; but the more I play it the more that Newcomb’s warm production releases and reveals, and leaves me feeling that there is even better to come over the next few years.

Released June 23rd 2017
https://www.slaidcleaves.com/

EXCLUSIVE Tine Refnes MAN OF THIS HOUSE (Single)

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Tine Refnes
MAN OF THIS HOUSE (Single)

This week just gets better and better. I’ve been inundated with some great new albums from artists we love and adore here at RMHQ then this morning I’ve just received this stunning new single from our favourite Norwegian, Tina Refnes.
It’s a pre-cursor to her new album (coming real soon) and if it’s anything like her debut NO ONE KNOWS YOU ARE LOST (2015) we will be very happy bunnies around these here parts.

MAN OF THIS HOUSE; a collaboration with fellow Oslo musicians, is a playful and gorgeous soundscape of a song, and demonstrates the unique qualities of her strong, narrative voice.

Released Friday 5th May 2017.
http://www.tinarefsnes.com/

 

Brigitte DeMeyer & Will Kimbrough -Mockingbird Soul

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Brigitte DeMeyer & Will Kimbrough
Mockingbird Soul
BDM Music

Luscious and Lyrical Genre Defying Roots Music.

‘Roots Music’ is a bit of a loose term these days; covering everything from traditional Irish Folk through to Chicago Blues and every niche in-between; but because this charming couple throw in a little bit of everything into their musical melting-pot; it’s the only way I can describe it.
I loved Brigitte’s 2014 album Savannah Road and excitedly went to see her in concert later that year; only to find the legendary Will Kimbrough alongside her on guitar.
Sadly (in my opinion) the audience only appeared to want to hear Kimbrough’s impressive playing so, alongside a hyper-chatty bass player, Ms DeMeyer got a bit over shadowed that night.
But, when she took the lead, the heady combination of her smoky voice on Will’s sublime picking was was mind-blowing and was surely destined to be recorded.
So, a mere 3 years later the duo have finally recorded a disc under their dual names.
Will Kimbrough’s distinctive picking opens the first track, before the couple’s honey flavoured voices harmonise on a delightful song that combines 70’s Folk with timeless Southern acoustic Country.
Will and Brigitte play around with genres all through the next hour, with The Juke being a sultry Southern Country Blues featuring some sizzling harmonica; and Little Easy being exactly what the title suggests with the couple treading lightly into Gram and Emmylou territory.
Apart from adding harmonies and exquisite guitar flourishes throughout the album Kimbrough also gets his moment in the vocal spotlight with the glorious Broken Fences, with it’s deep lyrics and Alt. Country undertones.
But, it’s a personal thing;I just love Brigitte’s voice, which is a ‘one-off’ and when Will harmonises on Until Then my legs went weak at the knees, and on the sassy Honey Bee she sounds like a countryfied Dusty Springfield.
In these days when you don’t need an actual single to promote an album, two songs still stand out from a rarefied bunch; the title track Mockingbird Soul with Kimbrough sending shivers down my back with his slide guitar; Brigitte has never sounded better as she takes us on a beautiful stroll down a Savannah Road.
The other is I Can Hear Your Voice, where Kimbrough takes the lead; but this beautiful song is more about the delectable harmonies that come dripping honeyed notes as they ooze from the speakers.
All of the songs here are, all bar two written by the duo, with the dour Carpet Baggers Lullaby being a co-write between Brigitte and Oliver Wood and all are incredibly well executed, intelligent and quite atmospheric.
The finale is an interesting and quite oblique choice…..but this adaptation of the Incredible String Band’s October Song actually fits in perfectly.
I can’t say much more without sounding ‘gushing’ but the wait has certainly been worth it as this album is every inch as good as I’d hoped three years ago.

Released January 27th 2017

http://brigittedemeyer.com/

http://willkimbrough.com/

Slim Chance – The Poacher (2016) EXCLUSIVE

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Slim Chance
The Poacher
Self-Release

‘The Poacher’ was first released in 1974 by Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance and current bass player Steve Bingham had the great pleasure of actually playing on the original; and has has re created the same iconic bass line on this updated version and also sings lead vocal, accompanied by the fabulous Fishpool Philharmonic which is of course Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson doing a remarkable job! All three musicians played and recorded with Ronnie Lane during the 1970’s.
The single will be a digital only release apart from a small number of special edition single CD’s which the band will sign and be available at their forthcoming gig at The Half Moon Putney on Saturday November 12th so do come along and grab one if you can!

If you’d like to order your copy you can pre-order on Itunes.
http://www.slim-chance.co.uk

Released NOVEMBER 4th 2016

Red Sky July – Voyager

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Red Sky July
Voyager
Shadowbirds Records

Hauntingly Good Harmony Drenched British Americana.

I’ve never understood why some ‘major’ record labels choose keep music back from the public. Most artists I know are prolific songwriters and it’s only because of the shortage of money why they, themselves have to wait an inordinate time to go into the studio.
So now we are in the Internet age and worldwide ‘marketing budgets’ are out the window; it’s a joy that Red Sky July have recorded 5 brand new songs only a couple of months after the release of their last full album.
Opening track House of Cards is very much trademark Red Sky July with it’s rolling guitar; but the sparse arrangement and honeyed harmonies seem like a great leap forward to my ears. There’s more than a hint of ‘Folk’ to the arrangement rather than the Modern Country sound that we’ve come to expect; but that’s only an aside as the song is hauntingly beautiful
1972 Onwards is a lot more closer to The Truth and The Lie; as this semi-autobiographical of Shelly Poole’s teenage years takes us on a hypnotic sub-Fleetwood Mac journey, with the singer gliding in and out of her memories with the greatest of ease; and the line ‘I always wanted to be Amelia Earhart/without the never coming back part’ is a definite keeper.
Next up is Like My Man; a co-write with Kimmie Rhodes and Beth Nielsen Chapman backstage at Glastonbury….. fancy that? The song is worthy of all their combined talents and Ally McErlaine’s flimsy guitar playing in the background makes a very good song; outstanding.
Another song that made me think of Fleetwood Mac is the sublime title track Voyager; but think Stevie Nicks and Chrissie McVie singing over a Peter Green out-take. Yes; I know but it really is that good.
The short mini-album closes with the epic The Longest Time; which sadly; I can take or leave.
But…..even though I am new to Red Sky July What Are We Doing Here quite possibly could be the best song they’ve ever recorded. The crystal clear production brings out the very best in Shelly and Charity’s beautiful voices while McErlaine provides some subtly stinging guitar in the background.
What’s not to like?
Not the happiest songs you will ever hear; but when played late at night; preferably in a dark shadowy room these songs will fill all of your senses at once and force to to choose ‘auto-repeat’.

http://www.redskyjuly.com

Released September 16th 2016

Bellowhead – Live (The Farewell Tour)

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Bellowhead
Live (The Farewell Tour)
Navigator Records

The Very Best British Folk Band Of All Time Bow Out At The Top.

CD
Is it me; or have Bellowhead had more ‘Farewell Tours’ than Frank Sinatra? It seems a lifetime since singer and co-founder Jon Boden announced that he was leaving and the rest of the band decided to ‘call it a day’ too; and it sometimes seems hardly a day goes by without a new album (a Greatest Hits and this…to be fair) and at the last count three actual Goodbye Tours.
Hey ho; onto this beautifully packaged Double CD and DVD, recorded on their final (?) UK Tour during November 2015.
As someone who has struggled to like; never mind fall in love with Bellowhead’s music; that in itself has left a bad taste in my mouth; as if I’d been a fan I would have wanted this to be a single concert; warts and all, but instead it is a carefully constructed and edited compilation of 52 tracks recorded in various venues across the country.
The music; all of the fans favourites are here; Betsy Baker, What’s The Life of Man? Gosport Nancy, London Town, New York Girls and Whiskey is the Life of Man. All of which sound glorious to the extreme; with Bodon’s rich voice never sounding better; and the eclectic instrumentation; which was always what made Bellowhead rise above their contempories constantly flits between ultra-traditional Folk playing through sea shanties, Collier Songs, rock structures to almost Classical content; and nary a note is missed.
Much to my surprise, as an un-fan, I still managed to find a few songs that I liked; and went back to voluntarily after sitting through the full two hours, for review purposes.
Let Union Be; instantly caught my attention as did the rather odd Moon Kittens; which is a bit Psychedelic in parts; but also almost hypnotic.
I stress I’ve tried my best to ‘like’ Bellowhead over the years; but have ended up just appreciating what they do; and what they do they do exceptionally well; as they have the ability to deconstruct songs like Old Dun Cow and Rosemary Lane, and give them an almost Jazz like lease of life.
Besotted fans may disagree; but for me there is one stand out song here; the staple of their set for many years and a song I learnt at Junior School 50 years ago; the Geordie folk song Byker Hill; and this version is as passionate and theatrical as I’ve ever heard from Bellowhead; sounding at times like something from a West End Musical!
The album closes with the rocking New York Girls and the rather elaborate Frogs Legs & Dragons Teeth during which, each band member is introduced and gets to do a mini-solo and eventually coming to a thrashing crescendo and a huge cheer from the audience.

DVD

While fans will no doubt love the CD and it will probably get welded into many car stereos to stop any other music sullying the speakers; it’s the actual ‘live show’ in all its 3D glory when Bellowhead truly come to life.
As a matter of professional courtesy I’ve gone out of my way twice at Music Festivals to see what all of the fuss is about; and both times I was really impressed; with their stage presence and the intricate way that each member bounces off each other in perfect time is both eye and mind-boggling.
All of my reservations about the construction of the CD are put to one side as the DVD is that very ‘warts and all’ (with no warts at all) concert recorded at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall and this is what will be what their fans will still playing in 20 years time; as it truly showcases why this band have been at the very top of the British Folk pile since their formation in 2004.

I’m 100% sure existing fans will have already pre-ordered this package months in advance of release; and won’t give two hoots for my opinion; unless they are the ones who sent me Hate Mail following my review of Matachin in Maverick Magazine back in 2008!

http://www.bellowhead.co.uk/

Released April 8th 2016

Christa Couture – Long Time Leaving

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Christa Couture
Long Time Leaving
Black Hen Music

Effortlessly Classy Canadiacana.

I first ‘discovered’ the aural delights of Christa Couture in 2012 when I reviewed her previous album, The Living Record; which made it to my Top 10 list at the end of the year.
So it was with mixed emotions when I received my copy of Long Time Leaving; could she match the quality of her previous offering?
Hell yes!
Christa has a very ‘interesting’ back story (a teenage battle with cancer meaning she lost a leg and the sad loss of her two young children); which has been well documented in her previous albums; so when this record is described as her ‘break up’ album; my interest was piqued.
The opening track The Slaughter is simply sumptuous; not only washing over you like Summer rain; but also quickly imposing itself on your psyche; as you slowly realise that it is about a number of dalliances she had with both men and women; following ‘that break up.’ For what it’s worth; I can’t wait to use her expression ‘rapturous tongues’ some time soon.
Song #2 Alone in This; takes a more tradfitional Folk path, than I’d expected but nonetheless; it’s another brittle and slightly dark story; set to Producer Steve Dawson’s pedal-steel back drop; and I guess it will make tears well up in many an eye.
As regular readers will know; I’m always going to be drawn to a title like Lovely Like You; and this one doesn’t disappoint; especially when Fats Kaplin makes an appearance on fiddle, as Christa’s exquisite voice soars and glides like a bluebird.
If you don’t already know Christa Couture, she comes in somewhere between Nanci Griffith, Allison Krauss and perhaps, even Mama Cass…..try songs like That Little Piece of My Heart or Michigan Postscript to hear where I’m coming from.
With the divide between this type of (Alt) Country and the CMA type Heavy Metal Country getting wider by the day; it’s harder for songwriter’s like Christa to make the crossover; which is a huge shame when songs like the quirky Zookeeper and definitely When It Gets Dark Again; could and should be a perfect fit for a number of ‘Big Hair’ singers in and around Nashville Town.
Which brings us to my favourite; by far song here….the quaint Aux Oiseaux; which doesn’t sound particularly like anything I’ve ever heard before; and that’s a really good thing. Plus the sentiment really ‘hit the spot’ with me.
Christa Couture is a spectacularly good songwriter; but it’s her voice and delivery that sets her apart from everyone else in the field.

#Footnote. When I played ‘This Little Piece of My Heart on my April podcast; I inadvertently mixed the title up with the Janis Joplin song; which tickled Christa.

http://christacouture.com/

Released North America April 15th 2016
Released UK May 20th 2016

April Podcast https://www.mixcloud.com/JumpingHotClubRadio/rocking-magpie-music-hour-april-podcast-2016/

 

An EXCLUSIVE interview with David Corley

David Corley

‘Lights Out’ for David Corley

An interview with Cara Gibney.
March 2016

“With everyone’s help, I’ve been trying to quit drinkin’ myself to death and smokin’ like a fiend,” David Corley told me via the transatlantic email conversation we were having. I was asking about his health after the heart attack that had nearly killed him last year.

Indiana native David Corley is a late comer to the game. Releasing his first album ‘Available Light’ last year at the age of 53, his deep, smoke-filled half-talk, half-sung voice spans years’ worth of stories and panoramas. He’s roamed his homeland over the decades, soaking in the minutiae of his day to day experience, quietly building a library of songs that he performs, or saves, or steals from. He’s a strange concoction of otherworldly and down to earth. He is the voice of everyman and at the same time he is intrinsically, weirdly himself and nobody else.

In September 2015 as part of the European tour for his debut album ‘Available Light’ he was on stage at the TakeRoot Festival in the Netherlands when he hit the deck. We nearly lost him. After intensive care at the hospital, and long, patient convalescence when he finally returned home, we gradually got him back.

Fast forward eight months. “I’ve been walking and running (almost up to a coupla miles a day) a bit, just so I don’t drop dead on tour again” he continued. Obviously his near death hasn’t dampened his irreverence. During this time he has also been working on his next release, an EP entitled ‘Lights Out’ that will be set free in mid-April, followed by another European tour of Ireland, Holland, and the UK.

“I wanted to put out a new record this spring, and tour with that, but my heart problems set us back just long enough that an EP was pretty much all we can manage.” Corley told me. The record’s producer Chris Brown is also in the midst of making a new record, so time and resources have been stretched. “We’ve both been burning the midnight oil to pull this all together for the tour in May,” he confessed.

If the EP is called ‘Lights Out’, does that mean all the available light has gone? “Most certainly the Available Light hasn’t gone out,” he got back to me. “It’s actually a misnomer that we ended up calling the EP ‘Lights Out” he continued. Apparently Corley, his partner Kari Auerbach, and Chris Brown, schemed the name up together. “It’s called an EP” Aurbach told me, “but David writes songs that are of such a length (even when edited) that the actual playing time is more like a full length LP.”

“We were originally calling it ‘Down With The Universe’, which will be a song on the record, but thought twice about it,” Corley continued. “On a lark we decided on ‘Lights Out’ because there’s a song on the EP called “Lighting Downtown”.  It’s a fun and kind of funny rock and roll tune and “Lights Out” is a line from it. Of course, (the fact) that I flat-lined last fall for a few minutes figures in …”

In the lead-up to the April launch he has released two tracks from the EP on Bandcamp, for sale and free streaming – “Blind Man” and ““Pullin’ Off The Wool”. What was the thinking behind releasing a couple of tracks before the EP is launched? “We, I, personally, want to get music out to people, and our fans,” he told me. “We aren’t trying to make money, just make a living.  So it was kind of like, here’s a couple.  We have nineteen songs in the works for the new record, and the EP and what’s coming up are just a few.”

So how did they select which tracks to release? “Well, we were going to do “Pullin’ Off The Wool” and “Watchin’ The Sun Go”, (which’ll be on the EP), to have a soul song, and a rock-steady number. But “Blind Man” just happened to come together faster, and it was a deadline kind of decision. Chris and I both thought “Blind Man” was just more put-together at that point.”

I asked if he’d tell me about his muse in the first track “Blind Man”. “Well, that’s a real funny tale,” he wrote back. “Years ago I actually decided to move to California from Indiana in the middle of winter, and left in a blinding snowstorm.   I decided to get as far south as I could, for better weather. I ended up crossing through Texas, and the southern route, rather than Colorado or Wyoming, which is a prettier drive.  Anyway, after an all-night drive in marginal, white-out conditions, I stopped in Austin, Texas, because it’s a great music town. And well, it was sunny and warm.  Unbelievable twist of fate.  I hung at some bar there, and talked to this beauteous 🙂 southern Texas bartendress, and we kinda hit it off, and she wanted out of Texas, and I was headed west.  The song tells the story of what coulda been, but I wasn’t willing to take it on, and I got back in my ride, and made it to the coast without a beautiful girl in tow.  Life is funny that way.  Who knows, she might have been the love of my life, but our timing was bad, or I was blind to it.”

The female vocalists on the EP are the same singers who appeared on last year’s album ‘Available Light’. That is Sarah McDermott – “she’s kind of the rock and roll side of things, and I can’t wait for you to hear those songs,” and the “illustrious Kate Fenner,” Corley went on to explain.

On the second released track “Pullin’ Off The Wool”, Kate Fenner “sings with Sherman Holmes, of The Holmes Brothers who she and Chris (Brown) know from back in the days with the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir,” he continued.  Producer Chris Brown is a renowned musician in his own right, noted back home in Canada for his role in the 80s/90s R&B-tinged rock band Bourbon Tabernacle Choir.

The Holmes Brothers were an American musical trio originally from Virginia who mixed blues, soul, gospel, country, and rhythm & blues. Kari Auerbach takes up the story. “The Holmes Brothers, famous and respected in their own right, helped out and influenced many a musician.  Joan Osborne heavily credits them.  They became good friends with Hugh Christopher (Chris Brown) in the mid-nineties and helped him out too.  Sherman is a wonder!”

“Sherman is like 70 years old and a soul man” Corley went on to explain. “Such a cool dude, and it was real special to get him over to sing a tune.  He and Kate just add-libbed in the backing vocals.  Lots of fun.

The EP’s sepia-tinged heart monitor cover art was designed by Kari Auerbach, who has been key to Corley’s recovery since events unfolded in the Netherlands last year. “I felt it would be very powerful at this particular place and time in David’s trajectory to refer to hearts, broken, distress, bandages, the thin line between life and death and good things … gone sideways,” she explained. “That’s how I came up with a distressed sideways heart, broken by an EKG pulse.”

She went on to explain the design in finer detail. “I also felt quite strongly that absence can be more powerful than presence at times … think how Basquat would cross out words to emphasize them or the use of negative space in art.  Sometimes a photo can’t convey that.  David and I refined those ideas together and I brought them out in the cover, which I called “Bandaged Heart”.  The colour and subtle light-leaks came from adding a sepia overlay. (More reference to peering through muslin bandages or sticky plaster band-aids, fading light and greeny- yellow EKG lights).”

The European tour starts in May. As well as the bard himself fronting the band, ‘Lights Out’ producer Chris Brown will accompany on keys, with Gregor Beresford on drums, Joey Wright on guitar and Cait O’Riordan on bass. Yes, that’s the same Cait O’Riordan of the Pogues – they met during the Irish leg of that European tour last year. There are also unconfirmed reports that backing vocalist Sarah McDermott is at this juncture planning on joining them, so we need to watch this space.

“Chris, Gregor Beresford and I are shedding on the tunes and playing a few shows here on the island and thereabouts, to make sure we have our proverbial shit together for the tour,” Corley enlightened me. “The island” he mentions is Wolfe Island, where producer Chris Brown runs his Post Office recording studio.

“I want to get after it,” Corley continued. “We were originally just going to tour with Chris, Joey and I as an acoustic trio … it’s incredible Cait and Gregor will be with us.” (Indeed, I have it on good authority that way back in the day David and Kari would drunkenly caterwaul to the Pogues).

On the Netherlands leg of the tour, Corley and Brown will be joined by BJ and the Wild Verband who toured with them last year. “Fucking (excuse me) really looking forward to all this” an unrestrained David Corley signed off. “I think we have the songs, and the band, to have some fun and get with it, so to speak.  Can’t wait.”

Cara Gibney

Tour Dates
MAY 2016 David Corley Trio or Band 
4-30 (NL) R&B Night Groningen 
5-1 (IE) Kilkenny Roots, Ryans 
5-2 (IE) Kilkenny Roots, Cleere’s 
5-5 (IE) Carlow, Visual Center for Performing Art 
5-6 (IE) Cork, Coughlans 
5-7 (IE) Waterford, Grimes 
5-8 (IE) Ballina co. Tipperary – Washer Woman 
5-9 (IE) Headford co. Galway – Campells Tavern 
5-14 Open 
5-15 Venlo – Down By The River 
5-16 Eindhoven – Meneer Frits 
5-17 Bergen op Zoom – Crossroads BRTO 
5-18 Open 
5-19 Leiden – Qbus 
5-20 Boxmeer – Special guest Hidden Agenda 
5-21 Open 
5-22 Oss – Oude Theater (Railroad Roots) 
5-25 UK Brudenell Social Club, Leeds West, Yorkshire