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Here we have the third studio album from Northern Alabama singer-songwriter Amy McCarley, and what a fine set of players and co-writers she has in tow. MECO is co-produced with Kenny Vaughan and George Bradfute (it was recorded in his Maddison, Tenn studio). Hence the efforts of everyone involved could not wish for a better grounding. As for the album title, MECO it is an acronym of mechanical engines cut off. A term used when she was a contractor for NASA. It follows her 2014 album JET ENGINES.
Other than Vaughan (electric lead guitar) two other members of Marty Stuart’s band, The Fabulous Superlatives play a role on the record, Chris Scruggs’ (the rhythm section playing drums, percussion and upright bass guitar plus, pedal steel guitar on Days and Paradise) part is a major one. Plus Harry Stinson sings harmony vocals on Paradise, while Stuart plays some typical, choppy mandolin on the superb if relatively short, Never Can Tell.
With Vaughan in the lineup you would expect a record awash in energy, and you won’t be disappointed. Vaughan and Scruggs aren’t slow in transferring an energetic feel to the music, the former stamping his style and authority on A Clue. While with Bradfute on slide guitar Clarksdale Blues has all the emotional strength, and otherwise feel of something from the legendary Lucinda Williams! It is that good. Staying on the earthy side of things, McCarley brings to mind Williams and fellow singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier on Days as she spills her heart out.
All the songs on the record are from things she’s gone through. She isn’t one for shirking either. Another star name to lend support on the record is Jerry Lee Lewis bandleader, fiddle player Kenny Lovelace (Ain’t Life Funny). On the songwriting front she calls on a friend from her association with the Bluebird Cafe crowd, in Nashville veteran award winner Pat Alger. McCarley’s brush with the elite isn’t a casual one, either, since there’s five co-writes with him (Days, Happy, A Clue, Clarksdale Blues and Ain’t Life Funny), it would be fare to say they are good for one another. Days is a superb track, and with a carefree road trip feel as McCarley speaks of her hectic lifestyle Happy flows, uninhibited throughout. A genuine 5-star cut. On Ain’t Life Funny she taps into familiar sounding lyrics, and though good there is stronger songs on the album.
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