Lincoln Durham‘s debut album The Shovel vs. The Howling Bones was unleashed at the beginning of 2012. I say unleashed as its rabid delivery of wailing cat scratched blues was at times awesome in its ferocity. Exodus Of The Deemed Unrighteous continues in this vein although it digs even deeper into murder, mayhem and dread as Durham scrapes, bangs and almost eviscerates his vintage guitars howling all the while. As on Shovel he also grabs just about anything to hand to pummel and clatter with credit given to a samsonite suitcase and plucked piano strings. Acoustic and electric guitar, cigar box guitar, lap steel, piano, fiddle and banjo are all down to Durham with Rick Richards handling drums on the majority of the songs (although he plays percussion by slapping his leg on one song). The production (by George Reiff) is crystal clear with the drums in particular pounding away, one element here that is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin. Durham’s vocals also recall Robert Plant in his heyday at times and although Zep were never as stripped down as this Durham delivers some killer riffs that they would have been proud of with Stupid Man featuring some fine acoustic picking sounding as if it could have been snatched from a demented rehearsal session for Led Zeppelin 3.
Durham plants his flag firmly with the opening song, Ballad Of a Prodigal Son. Biblical references, chain gang call and response and thunderous drums dominate until at the end slide guitar squalls for a few brief moments before evaporating into the ether. Rise In the River boogies like voodoo Creedence while Annie Departee opens with this line “This here’s a little story about a girl who can’t seem to quit killing men”. Durham’s lyrics are steeped in blues and gospel archetypes but he achieves an almost Cormac McCarthy moment in the opening lines of Beautifully Sewn. Violently Torn as he unveils the bloody results of incest.
“Screen door blowin’ in the wind that’s drying up the blood on the ol’ wood floor/Dead-man’s shadow still dancin’ from a 40-watt bulb swingin’ back and forth/Record is skippin’ in the middle of Son House singin’ ’bout an old death letter/Little Ellie Mae’s still cryin’ in the corner, sayin’ “daddy should’ve known much better”.
Keep On Allie affords the listener a brief respite from the musical mayhem as Durham dips into Steve Earle territory for an affectionate observation of a girl who might be a prostitute but who maintains a sense of hope for the future. Tenderly plucked guitar and slight piano mark the song out and show that Durham can deliver without the fire and brimstone. However he dives headlong back into hell with the final three songs and by the end the listener could be forgiven for feeling somewhat drained. Nevertheless it’s a sure bet that despite this repeat listenings will beckon.