Friday
Oct082010

No Comebacks 'Back In The Saddle Again' Ocean

With Special guest P.J. Proby - now there's a blast from the past. As indeed is much of the music here. The album opens with Proby introducing the album before launching into Corrine Corrina one of 8 tracks that Proby adds his still strong vocals to. But after a while the programmed synthesized sound grates. The drum machine particularly is at odds with the feel of the music. The end result doesn't swing it judders sounding like a country karaoke night at your local disco. Something that's fun at the time but not something that you may want to repeat in the cold light of day. Even the presence of real pedal steel hasn't managed to redeem the overall sound. The closing song, always one of my favourites Ghost Riders In The Sky is just about saved by the icon guitar riff and Proby's over the top vocal. No comebacks primary members Mark Dean Ellen and Johhny Podd doubtless enjoy country music and have made an album on a tight budget but the end result described as "quirky" will not be to everyone's taste but maybe the line dancers will enjoy it.

Friday
Oct082010

Chet O'Keefe 'Game Bird' Self-released

This album is packaged in a distinctive Jon Langford illustrated cover. O'Keefe is a bearded troubadour who vocally is reminiscent at times of John Prine. His songwriting similarly has an easy observational/conversational style exemplified by a song like Good Friends. But what really counts here is the strength of the song writing allied to the tight musical ensemble that includes some of Nanci Griffith's band (including Nanci herself on backing vocals), Thomm Jutz and Pat McInerney are joined by Robby Turner on pedal steel, Jimmie McEachern on upright bass and Brent Moyers on trumpet - a highly accomplished set of players who add depth and texture to Game Bird warm and inviting easy-going sound. A sound that has been co-produced by the aforementioned Thomm Jutz and Pat McInerney. But as mentioned the songs are the kind of story songs that breath life into their cast of characters such as the abandoned trailer living Charles (The Ballad Of Charles) or the songs about those who live to a ripe old age (Some Swedish Men) or closer to home a song about the endless stream of Nashville hopefuls (Nashville Star). There is no doubt that those who enjoy classic story/songwriting of this kind which is a little harder to find these days will enjoy this welcome and welcoming album.

Friday
Oct082010

Lee Harvey Osmond 'A Quiet Evil' Latent

Something of a side project for Cowboy Junkies members Margo and Michael Timmins though it's a more rounded project that that might suggest with some 17 musicians involved with this multi-facated roots orientated music which runs from the country styled duet between Margo Timmins and (I assume) singer Andy Maize on I'm Going To Stay That Way through the brushed drums and clarinet, smoke-filled laid back musings of Lucifer's Blues through to the rough shod VU motivated cover of Lou Reed's I Can't Stand It. Production is helmed by Michael Timmins, Josh Finlayson and Tom Wilson ( who also is a member of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings). There is a dark hearted ambience at work here that mingles a darkness at the edge of town with strange journeys. For an idea of how non-mainstream this is have a look at the video for I'm Going To Stay That Way on their website as I doubt you'll see it anywhere else. Tom Wilson is the main songwriter here, in tandem with other members and outsiders. So it is largely his shared vision that is at work here. In fact Wilson leads the five piece version of the band who are currently playing live gigs. But the recorded version of Lee Harvey Osmond has much to recommend it to those who like their music edgy, varied and subtly intense with some fine playing making it an album to experience in totality to appreciate what Lee Harvey Osmond has to offer the uninitiated. www.leeharveyosmond.com

Friday
Oct082010

Otis Gibbs 'Joe Hill's Ashes' Wanamaker

The latest album from Gibbs continues to consider the plight of the forgotten, often marginalized people who exist on the fringes. The song Where Only The Graves Are Real sums up much of his feelings about the nature of true friendship. This album co-produced by Gibbs and guitarist Thomm Jutz is a progression from his previous album in terms of sound, because of a tight band that consists of Jutz, Gibbs and Deanie Richardson on fiddle, Mark Fain on upright bass and Nanci Griffith's drummer Pat McInerney on drums. Gibbs' girlfriend Amy Lashley provides some additional vocals all of which makes this a cohesive blend of voice, music and song. The folk-styled songs leave you in no doubt as to where Gibbs loyalties lie and that's no bad thing in these days of artists watching their words in case they might offend someone who has some control of their career. Gibbs sings honest and true and his vision of the world around him is one that will be shared by many. His voice is full of empathy and grit that is both world weary and wide awake to life's ups and downs. Otis Gibbs has made a strong album that continues the troubadour tradition, the art of the protest songs and manages to infuse a real sense of optimism when observing the oppression that a corporate culture manages to consume us with. This is punk-folk that will find favour with roots fans as much as with those attuned to Billy Bragg's equally observed take on life, love and loss. www.otisgibbs.com

Friday
Oct082010

Marty Raybon 'At His Best' Grand Vista  

The former singer from Shenandoah continues with his new solo album, his first for the Grand Vista label. It's straight country, mainly of the old-school mainstream variety. It's not a best of as the title might suggest but rather a statement of intent. The production is by Raybon and Paul Carrol Binkley and is supportive of Raybon's strong and soulful voice which is always front and centre and ably supported by the players who include such notable players as guitarist Jeff King, Eddie Bayers on drums, Larry Franklin on fiddle and Adam Steffey on mandolin, the latter brings a touch of bluegrass to the overall mix. Raybon is a bluegrass lover as much as he is of the more full bodied country that predominates here. The songs have been well chosen and include several that Raybon had a hand in writing himself. The sense of being alone is highlight in the passionate A World Without You, a stand-out song here. That theme is also explored on I Don't Want To Loose You Anna while Still My Little Man (Matty's Song) is about a loved one on a overseas battle field. I Am Coming Home is again written on that topic but from a slightly different perspective. There are very middle American themes but ones that don't breach rather they emphasize with the ordinary man. This is solid, dependable and will find much favour with his fans and those who love country as it was delivered in the early 90's. www,martyrabon.com