Victor Camozzi. Roadside Paradise.

Victor Camozzi is yet another one of those wonderful Texan troubadours who for years have been one of the mainstays of Americana. Think of Steve Earle or Robert Earl Keen or even Kris Kristofferson and you’re halfway there to hearing him already. With a distinctive drawl in his voice Camozzi’s vocals effortlessly conjure up visions of drugstore cowboys and truck driving men, laconic, hard living, world wise. The fact that for most of us we experience this vicariously via movies and music leads us to imagine Camozzi as a cross between Sam Shephard and Sam Elliott as The stranger in The Big Lebowski.
So, scene set, what does the album sound like? Camozzi writes all the songs but all of the music is played by producer Matt Downs with the songs ranging from dust stained ballads to muscular roots rock workouts. The subjects are all well trodden paths, love songs, scenes from small town life, regrets and reminiscence all feature. Reading the lyrics one is struck by the thought that each one could easily be a short story or could morph into a screenplay. John 4:20 is a pot smokers’ response to a Christian call to heed the Word preferring to see the plant as a gift and offering an alternative to what to do with a burning bush. Sweetened with a superb pedal steel it’s a fine example of the sly humour here. The Mercy is a snapshot of a brief motel encounter that offers joy and guilt while The Homecoming Waltz is a stark portrayal of the emotional impact on a young wife coming to terms with her husband’s injuries on his return from the war with Camozzi wringing out every ounce of sadness from what one presumes to be a real life dilemma for numerous young Americans. While the uptempo A Lifetime In One Lifetime could be considered lightweight in term of its neighbours it’s a great celebration of living for the moment and is delivered with a rousing Tom Petty type pop drive. Mention should be made of two songs that stand out. Roadside Paradise is a brief note of a diner and a waitress therein that is atmospheric and evocative with a delivery that could have come from an early Little Feat album. Marlboro Morning evokes a similar feel to Kristofferson’s Sunday Morning Coming Down with its description of a fairly aimless response to the dawn of a new day. The slide guitar, harmonica and lazy delivery all add up to a what could become a radio staple if enough folk pick up on it.

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Marlboro Morning

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