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ESOEBO – IV  (Knot Reel Records)

ALBUM OF THE MONTH 

www.esoebo.com

Chuck McDowell (acoustic guitar, vocals) & Gail Burnett (vocals, cello) are Esoebo. With them supported by an amazing set of Nashville sessionmen in the form of producer Phil Madeira (acoustic, electric, lap steel guitar, piano, B3 Organ), Will Kimbrough (electric, acoustic guitar, mandolin), Chris Donohue (upright, electric bass), Bryan Owings and Dennis Holt, drums, and on one track, “For The Money” Bill Kitchen plays electric guitar you have a real team. Esoebo’s style of music is certainly eclectic as country, swing, jazz and rock are mixed together. From the sound of it McDowell is a big lover of the country story-ballad. This is no better illustrated than on “Some Things Said”, a co-write with Jonathan Richardson the feel of the melody isn’t that distant from (though quicker paced) “Long Black Veil”. It’s a good ‘un! With it sweetly warmed in harmony vocals and a relentless rhythm section everything slots together nicely.  

McDowell is the major vocalist, and with his bouncy style the music is never less than creative, and with Burnett and pickers with him ever step of the way a feel good factor is never far away; and, on top of the spirited playing there is also the humour of McDowell’s lyrics. As found on “For The Money”, and with a snappy beat with drums, lap steel, mandolin etc thrown into the pot to simmer, “A Little Bit Like Saint Paul” (sublime) is loaded in energy, and is arguably the best recording on the record. Now there is a common thread, energy the album has bushels of it! It continues right to the last as “The River” rocks in and out of the shadows; if ever a record sounded like everyone was having fun making it this is it. On this particular track Burnett enjoys more exposure than at any other time, and she doesn't waste the opportunity. 

Four of the tracks are co-writes with Madeira. Reflective closing track loaded in B3 Organ “Suffer No More” and southern steeped jaunty tale “Jubilee” among them. McDowell’s trio of solo creations are most interesting, and as expected diverse. “Hardwired For Trouble” is a funky soul warmed little number while “Hot Stuff” is a swing jazz affair, and there is the cello, electric guitar percussion driven “Scary”. With its hooky chorus and general warmth the listener has little choice but be drawn to the song! Producer Phil Madeira has a great track record, both as a producer and musician (he was with Emmylou Harris for a number of years), and has a couple of wonderful projects of his own available. Go check him and, Esoebo out. Don't linger, just do it. 

Maurice Hope  

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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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