An occasional column which captures the best of the rest, a brief nod to what’s rocking the joint at Blabber’n’Smoke in the hope that those wise enough to know follow the crumbs to the gingerbread cottage.
Jonathan Jeter and the Revelators. Late To My Own Funeral.
A five song disc from the full throated Jeter this is a powerful and ballsy trawl through southern rock and swamplike blues. Coming on like Drive By Truckers on the opening 19 Doin’ 20 the remainder of the disc doesn’t quite match the drive and finely balanced dynamics of this tremendous curtain raiser. The Springsteen like holler of Come On does run a close second while Barfly is one of those beer soaked sad café stories that sound like a movie in miniature. Eventually has too much bluster to convince with Jeter sounding a little bit like Lemmy but the final song Voodoo Woman, while a little bit too much on the pulverising side allows the guitars to slide and the menace ooze.
Linda Chorney. Emotional Jukebox.
Chorney, a New jersey based artist caused a minor media furore earlier this year when she was nominated for a Grammy award despite being an independent artist with no label. She didn’t win (that award went to Levon Helm (now sadly passed on)) but the publicity garnered can’t have caused her any sleepless nights. She’s a fine singer, at times reminiscent of Michelle shocked with shades of Chrissie Hinds thrown in. Here she delivers some fine self penned songs along with some covers of well known songs she grew up with. Indeed she covers The Beatles with I’m Only Sleeping and the Stones on Mother’s Little Helper adding her own personality so that the songs are refreshed. Her cover of Led Zeppelin’s Going To California is however outstanding. Retaining the rippling mandolin that dominated the original she manages to add on the Eastern influences that Plant has occasionally embraced with a vocal delivery that is warm and seductive. Elsewhere her own song Cherries bowls along with a sound akin to CSN’s Marrakech Express being driven by Michelle Shocked, some great guitar from Jeff Pevor buzzes away in a Garcia style. A great song. This is a double disc release with disc two a song cycle apparently including a cover of Stephen Stills’ Find The Cost of Freedom. Unfortunately our review copy didn’t contain the second disc but it’s a mark of how good this album is that we’d love to hear it.
Randy Thompson. Collected.
Sort of a “best of” from this Virginia based roots rocker with three new songs thrown in for good measure. With a driving rock rhythm section Thompson lays on layers of fiddle, mandolin, pedal steel and banjo to add a country twist while some fine lead and slide guitar add some guts to several of the songs. It’s a recipe that’s worked for numerous artists including Steve Earle and on listening to this it’s Earle who most comes to mind. Thompson is no mere copyist however as he delivers a fine set of songs written in the main by him although there are covers of Rock Salt and Nails and Steve Gillette’s Molly and Tenbrooks. Ranging from tough blue collar tales to twang fuelled countrybilly the album sounds swell cranked up with Goin’ Down to Lynchburg Town and Twang This being the outstanding selections.
It’s been said many a time that an artist has a touch of the “Nick Drake” about them. Well it’s the first thing that popped into my head when I listened to the first song on this début album. Raza’s breathy vocal delivery, the flute and piano all offer a melancholic autumnal air that does recall drake’s work. Towards the end of the album Rivertown revisits this mellow gold atmosphere while adding a folky air courtesy of the whistle playing of Frank Mead. The folk influence is more pronounced on songs such as Dark Side of The Road and Cool Dark Night while the addition of the African Kora on two of the songs add an enticing exotic touch. A fine first album that is mellow and uplifting and well recommended for Drake fans and anyone who hankers after the Van Morrison who capered with The Chieftains.