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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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November 2017

1
JW Roy & The Royal Family
80 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,BH,RST,LK
2
Chris Hillman
79 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
BP,FS,HD
3
Turnpike Troubadours
46 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
HM,TK
4
Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton
36 pts.
Wildflower Blues
Cinquefoil Records
TJ
5
Eilen Jewell
34 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
 
6
Lucinda Williams
31 pts.
This Sweet Old World
Highway 20/Thirty Tigers
BR,MW
7
JD McPherson
29 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
JS
8
Mark Martyre
26 pts.
Rivers
Independent
FC
 
Tom Russell
26 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
SP
10
Anna Tivel
25 pts.
Small Believer
Fluff And Gravy Records
MG
 
Margo Price
25 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
JB
12
Fred Wickham
22 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
RK
 
Joe Henry
22 pts.
Thrum
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HVB,PJ
 
Whitney Rose
22 pts.
Rule 62
Six Shooter/Thirty Tigers
 
15
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
HDB,JJ
 
Jim White
18 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
LM,SZ
 
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18 pts.
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Gallway Bay Music
CVL,DHO
18
Thomm Jutz
17 pts.
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19
Kris Delmhorst
16 pts.
The Wild
Blue Blade Records
 
20
Daniel Crabtree
15 pts.
In The Shadow Of His Wings
Independent
 
 
Jeremy Pinnell
15 pts.
Ties Of Blood And Affection
Sofaburn Records
 
 
Julien Baker
15 pts.
Turn Out The Lights
Matador
EZ
23
Amber Cross
14 pts.
Savage on the Downhill
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14 pts.
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Horton Records
 
 
David Rawlings
14 pts.
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GC,RW
 
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14 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records

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