Saturday
Oct092010

Nathaniel Rateliff 'In Memory Of Loss' Rounder

This album is largely built around the voice and guitar of Nathaniel Rateliff, there are other musicians involved but producer Brian Deck has used them sparingly to let Rateliff's dark, edgy voice be the central focus for his songs which as the title suggest deal with a sense of loss and loosing. The songs often take on a tough stance on like. A song like You Should Have Seen The Other Guy see someone who has reached a point where they have "no way to feel, no way to write" so a sense of desperation pervades the music. When the song requires as on Shroud the music can take on a harder edge and fuller sound. Some of the songs have the feel of a personal exorcism which can make for some powerful music. Rateliff's pain translates into uneasy but compelling listening for those who appreciate an artist who puts himself on the line in an open and bloody way. There are moments that remind me of the Frames and Rateliff may well appeal to those who like their music coming from a place that isn't all sweetness and light. In Memory Of Loss is an album that has a folk edge with electric overtones and Rateliff has a voice that cuts through and is powered by a strong sense of perdition but that is balanced by a way the music in itself has a powerful quality to pervade the consciousness with a positivity that the best blues music does

Saturday
Oct092010

Country Boy Rolling Stone 'Honky Tonking Too Long' Black Crow

Country music has many roots and many offshoots but what makes it good is the heart and soul that goes into the music. This outfit is led by Bill Crowder (formally of the Sugar Cube Blues Band) who sings and has written all the songs here. You can pretty much judge from the titles where they're coming from; That Woman Treated Me Like Dirt, Honky Tonking Too Long and My Baby Likes The Hi-Life all feel real and raw. While Bill may not be a perfect singer he is the perfect singer for his songs. This is no polished to perfection product, rather it is the product of some real passion. The band includes W.S. Fluke Holland on drums and Cody Dickinson on guitar. Indeed it is dedicated to Cody's father the legendary Jim Dickinson who was an enthusiastic supporter. Crowder songs fit somewhere between Kristofferson (Monday Morning Merry-Go-Round) and Cash (Going Down To Memphis In My Dreams). This is music with dirt under it's fingernails and music I'll return to again to just enjoy the genuine rough shod ambience that the music exudes. From that you can decide if this is your kind of music. Music filled with piano, organ, pedal steel and twanging guitars - the kind of music you don't get to hear too often on radio so it makes a visit to CD Baby or to their MySpace site for samples of what Country Boy Rolling Stone are all about all the more worthwhile.

Friday
Oct082010

Ray Lamontange and the Pariah Dogs 'God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise' Sony Music

This, his fourth album, starts as I remember him in a relaxed funky style on Repro Man but after that with New York's Killing Me it becomes less, well funky. Eric Heywood's pedal steel is well to the fore, alongside that of felow band member and steel and baritone guitarist Greg Leisz and makes you understand why Lamontange has co-credited this fine band and how important they are to this album and its direction. The title is a catch phrase used by Hank Williams but also a song on this album that is a letter to a loved one to whom the writer hopes to return if ...  However, as on his albums from his debut, the focal point is Lamontange's distinctive, rough-edged, gritty and soulful vocals. His production on this album has allowed that key instrument room to roam among the bands telling contributions. Jennifer Condos, the band bass player is a main factor alongside Jay Bellerose on drums as they lock together to create a solid foundation for the voice and the twin guitar skills of Heywood and Leisz and other instruments to explore the possibilities of the songs without ever overwhelming them. This is my favourite of Lamontange's albums to date and is one that will allow him to develop his music in whatever direction he chooses while hopefully bringing his audience with him. It's also the place for those with a more of an ear towards country/roots music to connect with a striking singer and songwriter.

Friday
Oct082010

Trace Adkins Cowboy's Back In Town Show Dog/Humphead

Moving from Capitol to Show Dog has not changed Adkins music much other than to re-energise the singer and make the songs that little bit more raucous and good ol' boy. With titles like Hold My Beer, Whoop A Man's Ass, Ala-Freakin-Bama and the title track you can see why he is signed now to Toby Keith's label. Adkins can still get in touch with his more sensitive side with slow ballads like Still Love You, a song laced with sweetness and strings. Break Her Fall, is another slow song of regret of looking back and movin' on. But those songs are exception in this boy's world of beer, brown cows, Chevrolet back seats and big guitars. Again, in the main, this is another part of the current Nashville formula, rather than edging towards the pop spectrum this album rides off into a southern rock sunset. Adkins fans will find much to admire and those who aspire towards the faux outlaw allegories will also enjoy its sense of bravado. Adkins has a big baritone voice that is well at home on his new label and it's overall ethos. 

Friday
Oct082010

Blue Rodeo 'The Things We Left Behind' TeleSoul

Blue Rodeo The Things We Left Behind TeleSoul

This venerable Canadian band are in reflective mood on this double album and prove yet again why they are revered in their home country. The mystery is why they have never gained a greater foothold in Europe. They tour on a regular basis but find little support at radio or have never got the boost that an appearance on Later, or its like, would bring. Again the songs are all credited to the partnership of Keelor/Cuddy. Usually the lead writer takes the main vocal and the other provides vocal backup. Alongside these seasoned writers their is a sympathetic powerful band of bassist Basil Donovan, Glenn Milchem on drums and Bob Egan on mandolin and pedal steel. they are also joined by a range of guests on keyboards, strings and background vocals. I have seen them described as Canada's answer to The Band which consider that the majority of The Band were also Canadian is a little ironic but, for me, they come over as the more roots side of Squeeze, Nick Lowe or The Beatles with strong melodic songs, good production and playing that is always appropriate. It's hard to pin point particular songs as everyone who is a Blue Rodeo fan will have their own favourites. Though I would pick Never Look Back, Arizona Dust, Don't Let The Darkness In Your Head at this moment as songs I like but then, as I said, there's much about this album that enhances the band's reputation and standing. They've been around a long time but are still make relevant and worthwhile music so waht more can you ask of any band. It's a hell of a lot more than most deliver. They may be making music that more reflective, statelier overall but they haven't lost their spark.