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Ace guitarist and vocalist Bill Kirchen’s latest venture is with his long-time friend singer-songwriter Austin De Lone; recorded on both sides of the Atlantic hence the album title Kirchen brings in a couple or so standards to go with material from de Lone, Blackie Farrell and a brand new one from Texas legend, Butch Hancock and one from his wife, Louise Kirchen plus others on this generous 14-song release.   


Kirchen and de Lone go back a long way, and with them backing the album with a tour in the UK the boys are serious. Underlined with the music taking in a little of America’s west coast vintage Bakersfield country sound as the heroic efforts and influence of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens is recognised in a song Kirchen wrote with Farrell “Hounds Of The Bakersfield”. You also have a couple of trips back in time as Merle Travis – Tex Williams’ barroom classic “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke That Cigarette” and Bob Dylan’s timeless, no matter whether it's a feel of joy or stubborn resistance “The Times They Are A-Changin’ plus from his days performing in the band Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airman “Wine, Wine, Wine” and a cover of r&b song “Losing Hand” (Charles E. Calhoun) from a record made by Ray Charles enjoy space.


Among the new songs Texas singer-songwriter Butch Hancock “Oxblood” takes some beating, but it doesn’t stop here! Coincidently Kirchen who sings lead is joined by Hancock (vocals) and with de Lone’s sweet work on piano and Gurf Morlix (alongside Kitchen who performs baritone guitar on this occasion) laying down some superb electric guitar music of another time is not only captured, but elevated.


Awash in great picking, varying in style from Kirchen’s west coast country twang on “Hounds Of The Bakersfield” to the funky groove of Austin de Lone’s superlative “Let’s Rock” and with class plastered in large letters all over it he again thrills on “All Tore Up” (it is one of those songs acts will clamour to get a piece of the action, it is the type of song that encourages stage jams). Recorded in London you couldn’t wish for a finer showcase number for all involved, de Lone, Kitchen, Mills and Riley!


Others include Louise Kirchen’s reflective “Back In The Day”, performed mellow fashion by her husband, Bill, and with a gospel edge to it Farrell’s “Somebody’s Going Home” lifts one’s heart. With vocals shared and additional harmonies by Louise Kirchen and Sarah Brown the song is another people are likely to want to cover, and or wish they had written. Light and breezy, straight down the line first class pub rock “No Need For Knocking” (from de Lone, who else) the first of two UK bonus tracks it paves the way for pedal steel (Bobby Black) warmed “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke That Cigarette”. With the boys swinging like crazy I can’t but help muse a western swing album from the boys would be a natural. Are you listening guys!


                                                Maurice Hope 

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