Lucky Bones. Together We Are All Alone
A vehicle for Irish songwriter Eamonn O’Connor, Lucky Bones are now a bona fide band but this album was recorded by him with local musicians in Texas after he met producer Stephen Ceresia while touring. Overall it’s a fine collection that showcases O’Connor’s writing that is poetic to read and sits well within the songs. However the variety of styles on show here leads to a sense that he has still to find his own métier. There is Americana, delivered on the opening title song which is a jaunty road trip with banjo and fiddle well to the fore and Longshot which has a power pop jangle and a driving rhythm. Elsewhere Stand So Tall is a smoky tale of a mysterious femme from New Orleans and has a fine mellifluous guitar sound which is used again on Frank Sinatra, a ballad which verges on the lachrymose and which, despite the stark Carveresque lyric almost blunders into bland James Blunt territory.
Two songs stand out. Magnificent Mistake marries O’Connor’s Irish sensibilities with the cool, laid back delivery of the late Gene Clark to the extent that I had to check to see that it wasn’t a cover of a Clark song. It isn’t. O’Connor follows this up with Unbelieving Eyes, a harrowing tale of a pointless murder, delivered with a passion and the tune of which seems to be based on the Times They are A Changin’. More of this and we would have a much more interesting album.
Back to basics with this one. There Comes A Time is a great example of Texan troubadouring. With Woji channelling the greats including Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Woody Guthrie this is a fine rootsy album that digs into the past with an excellent version of Deep Ellum Blues and brings things bang up to date with The Ballad of Bernie, a song about the disgraced Ponzi fraud felon. From the opening Warm East Texas Rain to the closing My Last Ole Dollar Wolji delivers the goods. Anyone who digs acoustic Earle, John Prine or Butch Hancock will find much here to whet their whistle. Woji has the required (and attractive) weathered voice, the guitars and harmonica sweep all before them and his writing is well above par. The aforementioned Ballad Of Bernie would sit well on a John Prine album with Wolji turning in a humorous and topical observation with some panache. No One To Talk To shows another gentler side, a gorgeous and gentle lovelorn snapshot. Well recommended.
Ms. McClurg is one of those ballsy female singers who hails from a country background but delivers her goods with a rock attitude. The danger here is that Nashville has cottoned on to this and McClurg occasionally dances dangerously to the edge on this album with a few of the songs coming across as so much AOR fodder. Overall however the scales tip in her favour. The title song is gutsy while Little More Highway is a classic crash between a road song and a lost relationship tale. Out of Nowhere has some gutsy guitar and it’s fair to say that throughout the album the guitarists excel along with the legendary Al Perkins on pedal steel. There’s a Rolling Stones touch in the raunchy Home Is Where You Are while Sunday Morning swirls with organ and jumbled guitars to produce a great Southern soul sound. The best song on the album however is the closer Tumbleweed which resembles classic early seventies country rock with piano well to the fore while the guitars grumble and growl.
Ms. McClurg is currently touring the UK and appears at Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry on February 20th.