“There’s a thunder looming” goes the weather forecast for Deadsville , that mythical hinterland where Jim Dead and occasional compadre Craig Hughes hunker down and sustain themselves with helpings of tinder dry musical epistles that smell of brimstone and dread. Expertly mapped out on Ten Fires, Dead’s last album, he returns to Deadsville in I’m Not Lost with Hughes riding shotgun having ditched the rhythm section somewhere back along the trail.
Dead and Hughes have indeed hunkered down in Glasgow’s Ohm studios and transformed the damp bleak Scottish winter into their sun scorched and parched mythical landscape. A six-song expedition this is leaner than and not as mean as Ten Fires. No one gets lynched but the outlook remains as bleak as bleached bones as Dead sings and almost moans in ominous fashion. Steady Us opens the disc with Hughes in a Morricone mood, his guitar cracking the sky open and then rumbling along with menace as Dead delivers some nihilistic words. Nine Years continues in this vein with Dead coming across like a voice from the grave, a sense that is accentuated by the whelps that close the song. Gold + Silver finds Dead solo, hesitant and fractured but Hughes returns with his switchblade guitar on the snappy suicide note of Giving Up The Ghost. Stealing A Mile is the standout track here, slow, brooding, filled with menace and foreboding. With Hughes’ guitar creating a sonic sandstorm over Dead’s acoustic drone Dead foretells of the storm a coming and proclaims “I’ve not cared much for sunny days or bright afternoons in the haze. Give me clouds and give me rain.” As on most of the songs the lyrics are opaque allowing the listener to imagine a scene while the music is almost cinematic.Dead states on his website that he’s been listening to Calexico and and it’s most apparent here. The closing song Head Full Of Booze however comes across almost as a traditional number lamenting the demon drink and the havoc it wreaks. With Hughes’ guitar more lyrical and almost pedal steel sweet it could have been Hank William’s last song.
Overall I’m Not Lost is another reason to reckon that Dead is our number one homegrown American artist. A download only release it’s merely a precursor to the full follow up to Ten Fires and at around £4 it’s a steal. You can get it here