Country Music People March 2019 - Page 42

albumreviews ROSSI / RICKARD We Talk Too Much  1/2 I’ll Take You Home / I’ve Tried Letting It Go / Oughta Know By Now / But I Just Said Goodbye / Waiting For Jesus / I’m Only Happy / Rearrange / I Talk Too Much / Heartbreaker / Good Times Bad Times / Sinking in Blue / Maybe Tomorrow Producer: Bob Young earMUSIC/Edel 40:55 I’ve never really cared for rock music very much but there was a time when I thought Status Quo were terrific. I even saw them live at the Hammersmith Odeon and The Rainbow. Quo were often mocked for supposedly only knowing three or four chords but maybe that’s what actually appealed to me. It seemed like good time music at the time, KIM LENZ Slowly Speeding  Bogeyman / Pine Me / Guilty / Bury Me Deep / Slowly Speeding / Wild Oak / I’ll Find You / Percolate / Hourglass / Room Producer: not listed Blue Star Record Company 30:48 Kim Lenz might be an unfamiliar name to many CMP readers but she’s been on the block for twenty odd years now, though Slowly Speeding is only her fifth album. She’s certainly a performer with impeccable taste. 42 cmp - MARCH 2019 and as far as I’m aware, the first time I heard Wild Side Of Life it was the Quo version. Shortly after that I moved on to other things. Now, Status Quo founding member Francis Rossi has a book/ spoken word tour and what is described as a collection of “country- flavoured duets” to flog. The operative word there is “flavoured” for this in reality is far from country with only that the guitars appear to be mainly acoustic possibly tying it loosely to something that is some people’s idea of country at all. For the project, Rossi is joined by vocalist Hannah Rickard who no doubt jumped at the chance. She is a singer and fiddle player from the north east who appears to have been more usually involved with more 50’s style rock’n’roll. She has co-written all the songs but I’m not sure this project really does her any favours and at times she has a slight folksiness (Good Times Bad Times) to her vocals which I didn’t like at all. Quite a few of the songs are actually pretty good. I especially liked But I Just Said Goodbye, which shows Rossi can still pen a decent commercial tune, but the production has killed it. I’m Only Happy is less Quo-like and equally as commercial, but it too should sound so much better. For the title track they seem to have channelled ELO. Maybe this will work better live when sonic expectations are lower but sadly the whole album sounds low budget and a little amateur and that’s a shame. Rossi must be alright for a few bob and if he had splashed out more on the studio/production/band and gone all out for a real country sound I think I could’ve liked this record a lot more. Or maybe I still have a soft-spot for Down The Dustpipe and Down Down? Duncan Warwick While most of her releases have stuck pretty firmly to the classic rockabilly gal formula up to now, with obvious nods to the likes of Wanda Jackson, her last album included a revisiting of a peachy Johnny Horton shuffle from many years before his rebirth as a mid 50s rocker, Shadows On The Old Bayou. So she knows what proper country sounds like, and if she’d followed that up with an entire album of Horton numbers, she’d probably have got a thumbs up from this quarter. Instead she’s done something much braver, which is to cut a 10 tracker that probes beyond the normal rockabilly boundaries, while staying recognisably rockabilly in spirit. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of artistic expression when it doesn’t get self-indulgent, and Lenz has pulled it off very well, largely never forgetting a rockabilly’s main job is to entertain, not try to show us how clever they are. I wouldn’t say it’s all killer and no filler here, but the best here is very good indeed. The opening track Bogeyman establishes the off centre mood that characterises the entire album, and Pine Me has an echoey, gothic haunted quality. Guilty has plenty of clicking slap bass and an explosive guitar break to satisfy lovers of modern rockabilly, and Wild Oak dispenses with drums all together, just using the stand up bass to supply the rhythm, old style, to create an effective blues-cum-hillbilly bop/goth hybrid. Bury Me Deep has a big muffly sound and a kicking beat, the sort of thing you could imagine Imelda May cutting in her pomp. Curiously, I’ll Find You seems to deploy the eerie, stabbing rhythmic guitar figure of the classic British rocker Shakin’ All Over. Don’t tell me Lenz has been listening to the great Johnny Kidd, aka Freddie Heath, from Willesden, NW London? High five, girl! The real winner for me here though is the title track, a country waltz reimagined as a hallucinating nightmare, with the steel guitar at times floating in from or off into the distance as if you’re overhearing someone playing it in another room. I felt there was slight slackening of quality towards the end of the album, though Percolate, poppier in tone than everything else on here, is a catchy little number with some smart wordplay. But this ought to get Lenz some notice beyond her usual audience. Jack Watkins