With so much good music reaching us at Red Guitar Music these days we thought we'd add a few more in-brief style reviews for albums we feel are worthy of your attention from Greg Cornell & The Cornell Brothers, Cody Jinks and Lynne Hanson. As regular readers will know we have an eclectic approach here at RGM so you'll find a little folk, an album of murders ballads and some old-school country for your perusal.
Greg Cornell & The Cornell Brothers – Come On Home.
The second album from Greg Cornell ‘Come On Home’ is refreshingly referred to on the press release as old-timey and who am I to argue as it does a good job of summing up an album on which there is a lot to like. Greg Cornell and his band play a style of traditionally influenced music that has roots in bluegrass, country and folk and he lists John Prine, Neil Young, Gram Parsons and Levon Helm as musical influences, which is a very good place to start.
Cornell is more than ably supported by the excellent work of fiddle player Adam Moss (Session Americana / The Defibulators) who also handled the production with Grammy winner Justin Guip (Levon Helm) engineering the project. Vocalist / percussionist Amanda Homi (Jackson Browne / Ray Lamontagne) rounds out the impressive three part harmonies that are an important part of the album. Amanda makes me think that the band might not be brothers in anything other than music.
‘Come On Home’ is an album that fans of traditional old-timey (yep I said it again) bluegrass and folk will find much to enjoy. For me personally the gentle lilt of opener ‘Broken Wings’ hits the spot as does the swampy blues ‘Heavenly Rain’ which adds an unexpected dirty guitar, pounding piano and some impressively discordant fiddle to proceedings while Jason Nazary nails an inventive drum track. I really like the direction of ‘Heavenly Rain’ and maybe we’ll hear more of this in the future.
Elsewhere on the record fans of classic American literature will enjoy Cornell’s take on a Walt Whitman poem ‘O Captain, My Captain’ while lyrically Cornell is not afraid to tackle the odd thorny issue in his songs with the American justice system and the inhuman treatment of the Cherokee Indian on The Trail Of Tears amongst the topics addressed. While on a lighter note the bouncy ‘The Median Song’ might well be the perfect Greg Cornell tune with a nice mix of lyrical nous and great playing.
Greg Cornell is not looking to reinvent the wheel but a mix of impressive playing and interesting song choices makes for a rewarding listen.
Lynne Hanson & The Good Intentions – 7 Deadly Spins.
One look at the sleeve of the latest release from Canadian singer-songwriter Lynne Hanson which depicts blood on the (vinyl) tracks and I was intrigued. I opened the sleeve to find the tagline ‘Murder Ballads & Reckoning Songs’ and hey I’m in. Regular readers will know we’re quite keen on a murder ballad or two at Red Guitar Music (Gretchen Peters and The Looking spring to mind) so I was looking forward to giving the disc a spin.
Impeccably produced by fellow Canadian songstress Lynn Miles ‘7 Deadly Spins’ features seven (natch) songs that explore the darker side of the human condition, which seems kinda appropriate as I’m writing this in October with Halloween just around the corner. Lynne Hanson sets her stall out with the opening ‘Gravedigger’ which has an easy swagger complimented by some particularly deathly backing vocals and Chris Brown’s swirling organ. ‘Water’s Edge’ finds a wronged woman digging a grave for her cheating lover after putting her kitchen knife to new uses “He broke my heart. So I made him bleed” while slide guitarist Tony D adds menace to proceedings.
‘My Mama Said’ a co-write with Lynn Miles and the late Fraser Holmes is ushered in by the ringing of church bells as a young girl unrepentantly awaits the hangman’s noose while ‘Cecil Hotel’ may well be my favourite on the record as a father on the run, having killed the banker who tried to repossess his farm, is hiding out in a fleabag hotel. The ‘Black Widow’ finds the lady in question setting up her next conquest “He’s a little naive and a whole lot rich” Hanson drawls and you know it’ll not end well.
‘Run Johnny Run’ finds the rhythm section of bass player Jason Valleau and drummer Philip Shaw Bova (who also recorded, mixed and mastered the album) stepping up the pace and features some great interplay between the slide guitar of Keith Glass and Gilles LeClere’s mandolin. The album concludes with ‘First One’s Free’ which borrows the vibe of Dylan’s seminal ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ to great effect.
‘7 Deadly Spins’ might seem a little short to some but seems perfectly formed to me and comes highly recommended.
Cody Jinks – I’m Not The Devil
Cody Jinks you’ll be surprised to learn once fronted a Thrash Metal band and was hell bent on becoming the next James Hetfield. Luckily, judging by this fine album, the influence of his father who loved the outlaw country of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings proved to be the winner in this musical tussle of good against evil (only kidding fellow Metal fans….yes really).
‘I’m Not The Devil’ is a very fine record for all fans of traditional country that feel alienated by the bro /pop country that rules country radio. Cody Jinks is blessed with a quite fantastic warm, deep voice which when coupled with strong songs and great playing results in a very impressive record.
‘The same’ opens the album and that voice coupled with mournful steel guitar and fiddle sets the scene perfectly. The title track follows as he stresses to a loved one that he’s learn from his mistakes and pleads for another chance. ‘No Words’ is even better and features a really nice lead guitar break. Faith is obviously very important to Cody Jinks and ‘Give All You Can’ is excellent, made more so by the gospel tinged backing vocals that allow Jinks to stretch out vocally. The Merle Haggard classic ‘The Way I Am’ is a perfect choice for a cover that fits the rest of the album material like a glove. It is testament to the quality of songs that a well-known cover fails to overshadow the likes of ‘Heavy Load’ which is loaded (no pun intended) with religious imagery over a solid drumbeat, plaintive steel and twangy guitar lines.
On a personal note my dad, who played Johnny Cash all the time when I was growing up, will love ‘I’m Not The Devil’ which makes it very easy for me to relate to Cody Jinks and recommend this album.