Flyinshoes Review

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What is it about the old South, the Confederate States of yore, that makes them the source of so much romanticism, even for us on the far side of the pond? Whatever it may be – and quite possibly it is, at root, that new things have always happened somewhere else, it seems, ever since the end of the Civil War – we outsiders are only too happy to load our view of the south with all sorts of romantic imagery, and southerners are only too happy to play the game.  Adam Klein hails from Athens, Georgia and this new album is suffused with the kind of longing and nostalgia that can easily seem inherently southern; furthermore, with electric guitars to the fore he has embraced the new paradigm of Southern rock trailblazed by the likes of The Drive-by Truckers and Jason Isbell. This album springs from his work with what appears to be his first ever touring band, and there’s a wonderfully big, dramatic feel to this album that suggests he’s just delighted to emerge from his singer-songwriter chrysalis and become a magnificently colourful rock butterfly.

Actually, you can ride along on the music and the rich, dense production here without ever worrying too much what the songs are about. The electric guitar parts from Bronson Tew and, in particular, Crash Cason, have a magnificently understated intensity and I’d go so far as to say that the guitar solo on Goodnight Nobody from Mr Cason is the best bit of guitar work I’ve heard this year. There’s a delicacy to his touch which is a wonder to listen to, and I’m sure going to be looking out for his name in the future. Overall, the production is built around the vocal performance of the main man, and rightly so; though it’s not the strongest voice, he has a sweet, yearning quality to his singing that‘s really attractive. More than that, there’s an almost naïve sincerity to his style: no edge, no attitude, just a wide-eyed enthusiasm for all the wonders the world has to offer. Even with his voice at centre stage, though, Adam and his co-producer Bronson Tew have put everything at the service of making something with atmosphere, and in that they have succeeded wonderfully. A big brass section here, some intense Hammond organ there – it all fits together nicely, and can embrace the sweet, light bounce of Where Our Love Is as easily as the swelling drama of Goodnight Nobody.

Lyrically, there is a fair bit of talk of leaving and returning, of feeling the pull of the road and then the longing for home. A couple of songs are said to be about Elvis and the dark side of the fame he endured; in a way, that’s a different take on the same dichotomy, the lure of fame against the longing for the simplicity of your old life. For all that I’ve highlighted the very Southern atmosphere of this album, though, something else really stands out for me; two or three times I hear echoes of Nels Andrews wonderful album Sunday Shoes. I could have thought I was imagining it, but then Adam Klein pops up with a song called Jesse’s Mind; this is a song about Jesse James’ mother which just happens to directly quote a line from Nels’ song, Jesse’s Mom, a song that was actually about something else. It’s neat, and it makes me smile each time I hear it. As for that bloke’s chorus singing out the end of Where Our Love Is – well it sounds remarkably like something on Nels Andrews’ most recent album, Scrimshaw. Maybe that really is coincidence. Whatever, it’s just one more thing to enjoy on an immensely accomplished record, certainly amongst my favourites from this year (so far!). Check out the video below - and then listen to the album version and see what a production job can do to a song!

John Davy

 

 

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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
FS

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