Reigning Sound. A Little More Time With Reigning Sound. Merge Records

What to do when a pandemic means you are separated from your current band line up? They’re stranded in New York and you’re in Memphis, the place where you first strapped on your guitar. For Greg Cartwright the answer was simple, round up the original Memphis line up of Reigning Sound and go down memory lane. That’s almost the story behind this album but, in truth, Cartwright had just finished a tour with the original line up (Jeremy Scott on bass, Greg Robertson, drums and Alex Greene, keyboards) promoting a reissue of 2005’s Home For Orphans. The tour had just ended when Covid hit and, stranded in Memphis with time to write, Cartwright just wrangled the band into the studio.

A Little More Time With… turns back the clock somewhat, sounding less like Cartwright’s latest offerings and going back to the roots of the band. There are rootsy rockers and country styled songs, along with a dollop of Memphis soul, all in all, a fine smorgasbord of Americana to feast on. In addition, producer Scott Bomar (who has worked with Al Green and William Bell) captures the sound on a vintage 8 track tape recorder, allowing the album a vibrant and almost live feel.

Cartwright wrote most of these songs in lockdown and the opening Let’s Do It Again, addresses this directly in a most triumphant manner. It’s a full-blown organ swept rocker with echoes of Dylan and The Band in its marrow. The title song, while less frantic, follows in the same lines and it’s followed by a turbo charged cover of an old Adam Faith rocker, I Don’t Need That Kind Of Lovin’ which, to retain The Band comparisons, harks back to when they were backing Ronnie Hawkins.

So far, so rocking. But then there’s a brace of songs which dial it back a bit. I’ll Be Your Man hauls in some sweet strings and Christine seems to strive for a Doug Sahm like groovieness but, ultimately, both songs fail to really catch fire. However, as pedal steel introduces Moving And Shaking, Cartwright is back on the right track on a song which celebrates rock’n’roll with more than a hint of Gram Parsons in its delivery. You Don’t Know What You’re Missing is even better, sounding like a Travelling Wilburys’ out take and the album closes with a fine melodramatic sweep as On And On finds Cartwright  waxing on the importance of love over an impressive arrangement chockfull of plaintive pedal steel, harmony singers and church like organ. A fine end to a pretty fine album.

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