Country Music People May 2019 - Page 36

albumreviews Country Music Playlist GABE LEE Farmland THE HANDSOME DEVILS Nose To The Rhinestone   Alright OK / Lyra (Queen Of The Starlite Motel) / Eveline / People / Christine / Last Country Song / Wander No More / United States Of Nowhere / Ol’ Smokey / Happy Trails Producers: Alex Torrez & David Dorn Torrez Music 46:32 Race You To The Bottom / Country Western Band / See Me Coming / Cross Your Heart / Come On Mama / Sad Songs / Hope You’re Happy Now / I’m Coming Home Producer: Bob Doidge Independent 29:33 Gosh, this is a hard one. Over the years we have had many new country artists who have been influenced by John Prine –and why not, he’s wonderful – but Gabe Lee is sounding so like him: he copies his clipped, laconic delivery and he writes quirky, affectionate songs about life on the road and casual acquaintances. A song about hidden cameras in phones, People, is full of wry observations and yet it doesn’t wholly convince me, and I think it is because you can only go so far when copying Prine. Gabe Lee gets it nearly right but you can’t second guess Prine as his songs take you by surprise and veer off in unexpected directions. For example, take Prine’s observation in Far From Me: “Ain’t it funny how an old broken bottle looks like a diamond ring”: brilliant stuff and nobody else writes likes that. For all that, there is plenty to enjoy here and I loved the story about the motel prostitute, Lyra, who hurries him along because she’s got customers waiting. (“We can’t be too loud, You’d better be quick now, I got a line in the hall.”) His wartime song, United States of Nowhere, is so close to Prine with its sudden phrase “Cotton candy, Jesus Christ” and the casual way he mentions the veteran who “lost a hand or two”. The honed-back arrangements are good too: the guitar and dobro work especially well in Old Smokey and the guitar and steel in Last Country Song. Oh, heck, this guy needs encouragement. Here’s four stars and let’s see what he does next. Spencer Leigh The Handsome Devils are a Canadian traditional country band. Their leader is the Rev. Jon Goold. Also in the band we find the Rev. Goold’s wife and brothers, plus a “crazed steel guitar player”. The new album is number three, full details are on the band’s website. On Nose To The Rhinestone (nice title) we get eight original songs but the running time is under 30 minutes. The first track, Race You To The Bottom, is a quality country drinking song. It sounds a bit like something from Sean Oliver’s debut album, which had a fair few songs about the demon alcohol. Country Western Band is a fine country track that takes a look at country music’s rich past and mentions old songs from singers like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Johnny Paycheck. Cross Your Heart sounds a bit like a long-lost song from country music legend David Allan Coe and is another with a strong vocal. The new release ends with three winning songs. Sad Songs is one of those timeless country tracks with a lonesome vocal from the Rev. Goold. Hope You’re Happy Now sounds like a late-sixties country song with old-school backing vocals. The album concludes with I’m Coming Home, a pretty country tune which is probably the most commercial track on the album. The Handsome Devils’ third album is an entertaining ride for traditional country fans. There is nothing modern about this new collection of songs. The Handsome Devils don’t do modern. What they do offer is country music with both feet planted firmly in the past. Let’s hope that the Rev. Goold and his parishioners continue walking down the path to country music bliss. Nose To The Rhinestone is a winner. Paul Riley What we’ve been listening to: Gethen Jenkins Western Gold Tim Bluhm Sorta Surviving Emily Scott Robinson Emily Scott Robinson John Paul White The Hurting Kind Karly Driftwood Too Mean To Die Amber Cross Savage On The Downhill John Paul White The Hurting Kind Merle Haggard I’m Always On A Mountain When I Fall Jake Blocker It’s Your Turn To Cry (single) Dee White Southern Gentleman Steel Blossoms Steel Blossoms David Quinn Wanderin’ Fool Taylor Alexander Good Old Fashioned Pain THOUSANDS OF RARE COUNTRY CDs FOR SALE All in perfect condition NEW LISTS every SIX WEEKS Send large SAE to: J&J Country Sales Oak Ridge, Shootersway Berkhampsted, Herts, HP4 3ND 36 cmp - MAY 2019