Reviews roundup – Allison Moorer vs. Dali’s Watch vs. Jimmi & The Band Of Souls vs. Liquid Shades vs. Cha Cha’s Cadillac
Down To Believing
Allison Moorer has always made good albums, but five years on from her last album, “Crows”, she’s made a truly great one. I don’t know if its age or experience, but there is something extra special about “Down To Believing”.
Of course she’s always had a cross to bear, bearing in mind the murder-suicide of her parents in 1986, when she was 14 and her sister, singer Shelby Lynne, was 17. And the recording of this record coincided with her son, John Henry, being diagnosed as autistic, and the breakup of her marriage to Steve Earle.
There are some remarkable songs on here, the best of which are the best she’s ever recorded. Her voice is better than ever, richer than I recall, and the collaborators she has chosen have really turned in a good shift. Try listening to ‘Thunderstorm Hurricane’ and tell me it’s not going to be one of the songs of the year. She gets all potty mouthed on ‘Mama Let the Wolf In’, but as it’s about her son having autism you can forgive her. And it features her best vocal on the album.
It’s the best Allison Moorer album to date, and I expect it to be one of the best albums of the year.
We’re off the Eastern seaboard of the American colonies for some prog now. To Maryland, in fact, somewhere I’ve always had a soft spot for given its history as a refuge for persecuted Catholics. Well, I say prog, but Mic Wynne – vocals/guitars/keys, Michael Galway – bass guitars and Gary Venable – drums – obviously grew up in the nineties, as their take owes just as much to Soundgarden as it does Matching Mole.
So it’s a fusion of prog, grunge and post rock, which when it works is rather good. Chuck in a good riff as they do on ‘Blissful Ignorance’ and all is well. They can even give good ballad on ‘Without a Whisper’ and throw in some synth bleeps on ‘Ghosts Of The Past’ but there are always enough time changes for the more ardent prog head.
They’ve all got plenty of experience in the studio and it shows as there is nary a bum note to be heard. It’s one for the art rockers out there, and nothing sums up their sound and influences better than the closing cover of Duran Duran’s ‘Ordinary World’. An interesting listen.
JIMMI & THE BAND OF SOULS
This album seems to have come out a couple of years back, but it’s being repromoted in case you missed it first time around, and it’s certainly worth a listen as Jimmi & the Band of Souls dig into the blues and soul songbook for an energetic and enjoyable set of covers.
According to Jimmi, “The idea was to do a cover album by first deeply understanding the emotions within the lyrics. From there we rearranged the music so we could really tell the story with passion and energy. I’m really excited by the groove we laid down and the moods we captured.”
So “Cover Me” has twelve songs from the likes of Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Memphis Minnie and Sonny Boy Williamson, and that’s where it works best on weel kent tunes like ‘Not Fade Away’, ‘Rollin & Tumblin’ and ‘Boom Boom.
When they move into the world of Bob Dylan and the Beatles, it’s less good, as nothing can save a song as turgid as ‘Let It Be’. But pound for pound, this is an excellent set of rhythm and blues from a fine band.
Proper prog now from Italy. And it’s a four track EP from Liquid Shades who date back to 2007. They’ve had some teething problems since those early days, and it’s only since 2012 that they’ve really got their act together.
This is the resulting EP, and it sees them take their Genesis, Pink Floyd and PFM influences and put them to good use. Bookended by ‘Wandering In The Unconscious (Part 1)’ and ‘Wandering In The Unconscious (Part 2)’, it’s an interesting set of material, with some delightful flute and saxophone adding to their classic prog sound.
Best of all is probably ‘Fade to Horizon’, an evocative and atmospheric song, wafted along on a Tull like flute motif that really shows off their compositional and instrumental skills. Well deserving of a wider audience, this really was an enjoyable find.
CHA CHA’S CADILLAC
Finally, for today we’re off to Richmond, Virginia to listen to the splendidly named Cha-Cha’s Cadillac, who are a self proclaimed RockabillyCountryPunk band. Well, I suppose someone had to.
Of course, if you’re as old as me, you’ll remember cowpunk and psychobilly from way back in the day, genres that gave birth to the likes of The Blasters, The Gun Club, The Meteors, The Reverend Horton Heat and many more. But Cha-Cha’s Cadillac, despite their billing, are a tad more traditionally based in rockabilly, mixing it with some punk riffing and country yearning.
And when they clatter into a good tune, then it’s a righteous racket. Of course, not everything makes the grade, which means there is a great EP lurking within the grooves, but lend an ear to the likes of ‘Going To Bakersfield’, ‘Lonesome Cowboy Vietnam’ or ‘Cocaine And Hand Grenades’, and you’ll find a noise well worth listening to.