Shooting Stars and Tiny Tears is Daniel Meade at home, alone. Taking some time out from his increasingly frenetic schedule (tours with his band The Flying Mules and a recent jaunt around the UK playing keyboards with Ocean Colour Scene), he has returned to the DIY concept of his first solo album As Good As Bad Can Be playing all instruments here and harmonising with himself. As on As Good As Bad Can Be there’s a definite homemade quality to the recordings with little of the dynamics one can achieve when playing with a band. On the other hand Meade writes songs of great quality and assembles them in his home studio with such skill that the album is so much more than a collection of demos, rather it’s an intimate collection of songs that reflect his Tin Pan Alley, country and honky tonk influences.
According to Meade the album grew out of a writing project he set himself with the aim of writing a song within an hour and then allowing himself four hours to record it. There was a theme of sorts as the songs would all revolve around notions of romance with Meade inspired through his relationship with his girlfriend. As the exercise progressed it grew legs until the realisation that here was an actual album in the making and consequently it’s unleashed here.
Anyone who has seen Meade and his Mules hit the stage will know that they can whip up quite the storm but Meade has also demonstrated that he’s well able to delve into classic sad country mode with the prime example perhaps Help Me Tonight, a classic tearjerker. Shooting Stars and Tiny Tears leans heavily in this direction with none of the Jerry Lee type rockers in sight. Sure enough there are some up tempo numbers which jaunt along in a fine skiffle and country blues style as on I Wanted Nothing and One Is All I Need, the former recalling Big Bill Broonzy, the latter a grand singalong around the old Joanna with a hint of cockney voiced sixties beat bands (with Meade’s piano playing here a triumph as it barrels in and out of the song). There’s a delightful innocence in the gleeful acoustic skip of Your Voice At Night while How Long Does It Take To Fall In Love reeks of barroom honky tonk as the instruments tumble over each other. In all of these songs Meade’s words are just about perfect, self contained couplets which match the masters be it the lonesome lyricism of Hank Williams or the more pop orientated Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. Indeed the exuberant delivery of I Got Something with Meade multitracked vocally would sit easily within the Everly Brothers canon. As good as these songs are they pale somewhat when Meade settles into his lonesome persona. The title song, which opens the album, is a delight as he strums gently around a poetic love song suffused with heavenly imagery. He closes the album with another simple song, just voice and guitar on Today Doesn’t Matter which again recalls the high lonesome balladry of classic Hank.
It’s a measure of Meade’s talent that this homespun project opens up to reveal a songwriter who is immersed in the well travelled roads of his forbears and is able to add his own fresh take on time honoured traditions. Forever restless he’s off soon to tour in Europe and he promises another Flying Mules later this year but in the meantime this is a great listen.