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JAMES THE FANG & SERIOUS SAM BARRETT —THE DIME HORSE SHOE (ARKAM Records VINYL Release)

http://www.serioussambarrett

 

Music rebels they are most certainly. A more appropriate and accurate account would be so say they buck the system, turn the clock back to perform music that’s real and spare. Like seasoned hardwood or moonshine from a southern mountain still their music is durable and pure. James The Fang & Serious Sam Barrett recorded The Dime Horse Shoe on a 4-track out on Dauphin Island, Alabama (an idyllic looking place) on February 8th 2016. Yes, that is on just one day, quite amazing by anyone’s standards.

 

No concession is made to present-day fads (my copy is in beautiful, old fashioned vinyl) . Some people may think they have made an authentic recording, but all too often it is in name only. Here, the boys nail their hearts to the mast and let ‘er go. Fiddle playing vocalist James (from the Pine Hill Haints) Barrier and ultra keen, 12-string guitarist, banjo player and vocalist ‘Serious’ Sam Barrett (Leeds, England) hit the road running. First up with Barrett on lead vocals is a wondrous version of “When First Unto This Country”. The exquisite fiddle work and varied little riffs from James are most elegant. Even at this early stage it was obvious James is an immense talent, and with Sam’s deep affinity and love of the old stuff nothing was going to be left to chance; as the boys reproduce an honest and pure down home back porch sound. The music could just as easily have been sourced from a session played in an old wood cabin up in the mountains of North Carolina, Virginia or rural Kentucky or Georgia where neighbours might be distant but are always welcome. Long before country (or folk) music was viewed as commercially viable.

 

Among those pushing the superb opener they serve up a bustling version of “Diamond Joe”, this as the boys with sleeves rolled up give it their all. Joining it you have “Santa-Fe Trail” and a much covered, and rarely bettered foot stomping version of  “Sail Away Ladies”. Of the lesser known tunes “Hang Me” is solid, and with James on lead vocals the boys turn to twin-guitar accompaniment for “Step Stone”, and it too is a colossal piece. Utterly timeless, the aching lyrics and playing that’s a mixture of The Carter Family and Woody Guthrie shaped fare and original James / Sam music the lived in, travel weary lead from James The Fang makes it is one of those songs that grow on you. A real heart stopper.     

 

Adding to the six traditional songs, Jamie and Sam contribute two songs apiece. The former through material ideally suitable for his fiddle, and busy 12-string of his partner James offers an earthy fiddle splashed “Beyond The Walls Of Time” to go with “Tennessee Train”. Barrett for his part has the traditional steeped ballad, mid-paced “Roses On The Dashboard” and with fiddle, and slide guitar rambling western ode “Diamond Horseshoe”. Watch out for tour dates by them the next time James Barrier is over; either with Sam or the Pine Hill Haints.  

 

 

                                                            Maurice Hope 

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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