No mucking about today folks, going to kick off my first 2021 selection with Kerry Kearney a killer slide guitarist and vocalist who has been around for nearly 40 years, with his wonderful blistering blues and soul collection Tales From The Psychedelta.
Psychedelta is his own term for this mixture of blues and roots music and having produced a number of albums over the years, the tracks on this new album are essentially pulled from those past albums.
“Fatherless Boy” features some wonderful dobro playing whilst “Mississippi River Stomp” shows elements of Sonny Landreth’s style of slide playing and “Mean Old Frisco” brings us some country blues (Eric Clapton did this in the 1970’s).
All the accompanying musicians ( a cast of many) are of an excellent standard with some great harmonica playing, mandolin, and keyboards.
Songs I Can’t Live Without is the title of Nashville’s Marshall Chapman’s 14thalbum released earlier last year and, yes, it is a covers album, but what an album!
She has written her own songs covered by a who’s who of Americana/Country singers, and like a fine wine her own voice is aged but comes through with great character on versions of Leonard Cohen’s “Tower Of Song”, J J Cale’s “After Midnight”, Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page” and Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone” amongst others.
With guitarist Will Kimbrough and drummer/producer Neilson Hubbard on board, the smoky atmosphere is complete throughout….a couple of tracks need to be listened to on repeat so that you get all the picture from Marshall Chapman’s lived in vocals!
To quote Emmylou Harris 'I was not surprised then to discover most of those songs speak to the dark night of the soul, that ironically help pull us out of that darkness. They are the real life , the life Marshall has known only too well. It is the reason she writes the way she does, and why she knows a good song when she hears it'
And on the subject of covers, we have the latest offering from Lambchop, Kurt Wagner’s band, simply titled Trip which is essentially a song selected by each member of the band, actually conceived before Covid lockdowns.
The songs chosen include Wilco’s “Reservations” and Stevie Wonder’s “Golden Lady” and such a diverse collection could have sent the album off in any direction, but whilst there are no new frontiers pushed here, unlike 2019’s This (Is what I Wanted To Tell You), the musicians are of such a calibre as to deliver us an album of warmth and comfort for these strange times, especially in the USA.
Welcome to the world of 2021……