Country Music People December 2017 - Page 42

albumreviews CARLY PEARCE Every Little Thing  Hide The Wine / Careless / Every Little Thing / Everybody Gonna Talk / Catch Fire / If My Name Was Whiskey / Color / I Need A Ride Home / Doin’ It Right / Feel Somethin’ / You Know Where To Find Me / Honeysuckle / Dare You Producer: busbee Big Machine 42:52 The Kentucky-born Carly Pearce talked her way into singing with the house band at legendary Nashville bar Tootsies when she was 11-years-old. At 16, she was singing five nights a week at Dollywood. A decade on, she teamed with hot pop-country producer of the moment busbee to indie release a dark little ballad called Every Little Thing. Despite its downbeat air of heartbreak, the song caught the attention of DJs and the Big Machine label and, having scaled the charts to the Top 5, set the stage for this debut album. The opening Hide The Wine - penned by big hitters Ashley Gorley, Luke Laird and Hilary Lindsey - was apparently on hold for Little Big Town, and although ultimately declined by them, it’s easy to see why this swampy, fun and funky number might have been on the group’s radar as a potential hit in the style of Pontoon. LBT didn’t record it, though, 42 cmp - DECEMBER 2017 and perhaps the reason is that while it sounds okay in the moment it’s not very memorable, which was the problem I found with this release as a whole. The one track that really stands out is the hard-hitting If My Name Was Whiskey. Although the production has a slick, contemporary edge, the lyric about a woman coming to realise that her husband loves the bottle far more than he loves her is as hardcore country as they come and the sort of thing you might expect from Lee Ann Womack. Also deeply traditional is I Need A Ride Home, in which the singer finds city life getting a bit much for her and pines for a return to the bosom of her small town family. After the punch of Whiskey, however, Ride Home sounds a bit average, and sadly so does much of the remainder of the album as Pearce serves up such lightweight pop-country candy as Careless and Catch Fire. It’s somewhat ironic that Color includes the lyric, “you be the lines, I’ll be the colour,” because from the “Oh oh oh” backing vocals to the rock guitar solo, everything about the track is painting by numbers. Feel Something, meanwhile, is built around the plea “make me feel something” - which is exactly what it didn’t do, in my case. The embittered Doin’ It Right, with the line “you treat love like a shitty little motel” hints at a tougher side to Carly, but that aspect of her character is largely buried on an album that closes with the sugared adolescent sentiments of Dare Ya. Pearce co-wrote both songs, but their contrasting tone perhaps suggests that either she or Big Machine were trying to cover too many bases and may end up falling between them. Douglas McPherson GILL LANDRY Love Rides A Dark Horse  Denver Girls / Bird In A Cage / Berlin / Broken Hearts & Things We’ll Never Know / The One Who Won The War / The Only Game In Town / Scripted Love / The Woman You Are / The Real Deal Died Producer: Gill Landry Loose Records 40:50 When it comes to the most evocative album title of the year, Love Rides A Dark Horse must be right up there and it is also an apt title for nine songs about various aspects of relationships. Denver Girls has shades of Marty Robbins storytelling with Landry’s sonorous, deep voice over a rich blanket of sound where the twangy guitar and spooky pedal steel evokes a western-like atmosphere. However, Landry’s tale is a more contemporary combination of lust with love, rather than the noble self-sacrifice of the Robbins character in El Paso. Bird In A Cage is a slow ballad full of lovely imagery about being haunted by memories of an ex- lover. It has a Leonard Cohen flavour, which is enhanced by a passing similarity of the title to Cohen’s Bird On The Wire. Berlin moves more up-tempo and walking round the city evokes memories of a previous visit with an ex-lover. Landry’s vocal tone dips even deeper and becomes more resonant for Broken Hearts And Things We Never Know where Landry evokes a cinematic atmosphere by using movie metaphors about playing roles in scenes from a love affair. For Scripted Love, Landry also mines metaphors about acting, but this time in the context of a play. The One Who Won The War uses the well-worn war metaphor for a tempestuous relationship, but Landry’s articulate lyrics make it is a path that is worth re-treading. A solo trumpet threads through the arrangement, which has the dual purpose of emphasising the military metaphor and giving a sense of loneliness and isolation. The Only Game In Town uses gambling metaphors; another often used trope, but one that is well employed. “Playing hearts ain’t the only game in town” is the most memorable line in a lyric awash with playing card references. The Woman You Are doesn’t have a specific metaphoric theme, it is a jaundiced view of the world and contrasts that with the strength and support from a lover. There is the repeated use of a phrase containing an expletive which is particularly memorable and a satisfyingly poetic use of the F-word. The album concludes with The Real Deal Died, which is largely instrumental with only a short lyric about fame killing the original inspiration for a musician. Gill Landry was a member of The Old Crow Medicine Show from 2007 until 2015. He made the occasional solo album while he was in OCMS, but he can now concentrate on his solo career and he seems to have hit a rich vein of songwriting. Love Rides A Dark Horse is his fifth solo album and a superb collection of songs, lovingly crafted with atmospheric arrangements. Michael Hingston