No sooner than No Mean City ends another Americana themed festival hits Glasgow in the shape of Glasgow Americana hosted by Fallen Angels promoter Kevin Morris. Packed into a week of mouth-watering gigs in a variety of venues this years event sees stellar names such as Israel Gripka Nash, Slaid Cleaves, Laura Cantrell, Darden Smith, Madison Violet, Devon Sproule, My Darling Clementine, Anna Coogan and Dean Owens appearing. The week culminates in a tribute evening celebrating Gram Parsons featuring James Grant, Roddy Hart, Madison Violet, Ben Glover, My Darling Clementine, The Parsonage Choir and The City Sinners.
The Parsons tribute night and the Cleaves show are already sold out so folk intending to attend any of the other shows would be well advised to head over to the website and book their seats now. In the meantime we thought we’d delve into some of the wares likely to be on sale at the various gigs.
We’ve already mentioned the excellent new release from Slaid Cleaves and the latest live offering from Madison Violet while Anna Coogan has long been one of our favourites. However it’s with a degree of serendipity that albums from My Darling Clementine and Israel Nash Gripka have recently dropped into the Blabber’n’Smoke mailbox with both of them boding well for their Glasgow appearances.
My Darling Clementine are husband and wife team, Michael Weston King (ex The Good Sons) and Lou Dalgleish and their album, The Reconciliation? is a celebration of classic country male/female duets with some southern soul thrown in for good measure. It’s not a pun to say that this effort appears to be a labour of love as everything about it appears to have been well crafted from the song writing and magnificent playing to the superb packaging that has a faded and scuffed vinyl album patina looking like the sort of platter one might find in a charity store bin. King and Dalgliesh spar and croon as well as any of their forebears including Tammy and George, Dolly and Porter and even Emmylou and Gram while the music flits from honky tonk to tear jerking Nashville rhinestone ballads and soul farm grit with backing from Richard Hawley’s band for the most part. There are no happy songs here although the final cut Miracle Mabel tells of the birth of King and Dalgleish’s daughter with a fine tenderness. The majority of the songs are about breakups and divorce (Unhappily Ever After featuring a guest vocal from Kinky Friedman standing out) and while there’s a barb in some of the lyrics where they strip away the showbiz tears and schmaltz and reveal the reality of domestic abuse and alcoholism ( No Matter What Tammy Said (I Won’t Stand By Him) for example stands Wynette’s melodrama on its head as Dalgleish abandons her man) listening to the album one could almost be sitting in a flea bit bar with a great jukebox belting out each of the songs here and quietly shedding a tear in one’s beer. Magnificent.
Israel Nash Gripka has been well regarded for some time with his two previous releases garnering favourable reviews. Now ditching the Gripka he unveils his latest offering Israel Nash’s Rain Plans following a relocation from his native Missouri to Austin Texas. God knows what Austin has done to him but if he could bottle it he’d make a fortune as this album astounds from start to finish. Nash wallows in the sumptuous sound that characterised the glory days of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with particular emphasis on the Young contribution. In addition there is a sweeping pedal steel vista that hovers over and around some visceral guitar work that sends shivers up the spine evoking Jerry Garcia’s work on Crosby’s seminal work If Only I Could Remember My Name. All of this might mark Nash as a mere copyist or revivalist but the sheer beauty of some of the songs here soon overwhelms any such thoughts with the middle eight and outro in Myer Canyon in particular stunning the listener into a state of awe. Guitars weave and wander with a ferocity and lyricism that defies description and he repeats this throughout the album and there’s a moment in the title song where the guitars fizz and burn just like the best firework you’ve ever seen. Rather than go through this album song by song it’s sufficient to say that it burns brightly and holds its freak flag high and is a contender for the album of the year. If Nash can deliver even a tenth of this energy live then his show will be incandescent.
Check out the Glasgow Americana website