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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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December 2018
1
Malford Milligan
75 pts.
Life Will Humble You
Royal Family Records
JF,FB
2
JD McPherson
61 pts.
Socks
New West Records
CVL,DHO,MVP,MB
3
Rosanne Cash
50 pts.
She Remembers Everything
Blue Note Records
WR,BP,JSM,HB
4
Ad Vanderveen
45 pts.
I Was Hank William
Blue Rose Records
TK,LM,BM,JB
5
John Hiatt
44 pts.
The Eclipse Sessions
New West
FC
6
The Yearlings
41 pts.
Skywriting
Lonely Sounds Records
EZ
7
Tip Jar
40 pts.
Onward
Independent
FS
8
Nathan Bell
39 pts.
Loves Bones & Stars
Angry Stick Recording Co.
RB,SZ,PG
9
The Brother Brothers
38 pts.
Some People I Know
Compass Records
BK
10
Richard Dobson
30 pts.
I Hear Singing
Brambus Records
JS,NC
11
Steve Forbert
29 pts.
The Magic Tree
Blue Rose Music
PR
12
J.P. Harris
28 pts.
Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing
Free Dirt Records
TJ
13
The Bottle Rockets
24 pts.
Bit Logic
Bloodshot Records
GS,PKO
14
Rodney Crowell
23 pts.
Christmas Everywhere
New West
 
15
Christian Kjellvander
22 pts.
Wild Hxmans
Tapete
 
16
Erin Costelo
21 pts.
Sweet Marie
Compass Records
PJ
17
Colter Wall
20 pts.
Songs of the Plains
Young Mary's Record
 
18
The Hillbenders
19 pts.
The Hillbenders
Compass Records
FH
19
Eric Bibb
18 pts.
Global Griot
Stony Plain
 
 
Karine Polwart
18 pts.
Laws of Motion
Hudson Records
HH,KG
21
Carson McHone
17 pts.
Carousel
Nine Mile Records
 
 
Malcolm Holcombe
17 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
MF
23
Ben Bedford
16 pts.
The Hermit's Spyglass
Cavalier Recordings
SP
 
Craig Moreau
16 pts.
A Different Kind Of Train
Independent
MP
 
David Olney
16 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music

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