Currently in the midst of a European/UK tour that sees them playing around 50 gigs in about 60 days Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart have built up a reputation as hard working, hard travelling troubadours who will play almost anywhere anytime. Most recently they pitched up at the Rio Café in Partick and will be returning to the west coast later this month.
A timely release then for Dedication. It’s a laid back affair for the most part perfectly suited for the pair to perform live although here the songs are embellished by some fine playing from the duo with Stuart playing various guitars and bass, Earle on guitar, piano and ukulele and Craig Wright on drums.
Although they say that many of the songs were inspired and written on a 1928 piano gifted to them the piano is not the dominant instrument here, instead the musical highlight is the guitar playing of Stuart be it the subtle Duane Eddy undertones of the title song, the sly slide work on Workin’ On It or the fifties styled almost pizzicato picking that underpins I’ve Been Wrong, I’ve Been Right which also features a fine Sleepwalking type solo. The aforementioned piano is at the heart of the tremendous ballad For A Long Time which was co-written with the late Harley Allen. Bereavement, although not mentioned specifically appears to feature throughout the album with mention of a period of loss and reflection in the promotional notes and the album ends with a short instrumental A Great Day To Fly performed by Earle playing her late father’s ukulele. Bereavement is at the heart of the centrepiece of the album. The Flag is a spoken word (or song poem) from Earle with simple guitar picking and some atmospheric colour by accordionist Michael Webb which recounts a mother’s tale of her son from birth to school to enlisting to his death. Very simple and very effective it’s chilling and evocative. The gritty duet with some gutsy guitar that is the title song is another gloomy slice of life while the McCartney like Broken Heart For You (which is the other piano driven song here) almost breaks into a sunnier clime on its refrain. The following Working On It allows the players to relax and enjoy a slippery slide driven Southern comfort of a song that recalls early Little Feat while the fifties dappled I’ve Been Wrong, I’ve Been Right harks back to earlier, simpler times.
A fine album and certainly a good recommendation to catch any of their upcoming shows.
Tour dates here website
For A Long Time