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JOHN CEE STANNARD & BLUE HORIZON. Bus Depot Blues CD review

JOHN CEE STANNARD & BLUE HORIZON

Bus Depot Blues

(CAST IRON RECORDINGS)

For forty years, John Cee Stannard composed no songs despite having more or less written Tudor Lodge’s eponymous album in 1971. His belief is that the completion of his first novel, The GRiPPENHAM Tales – The Hidden Truth, in 2011 rekindled his musical creativity. Bus Depot Blues follows on from The Doob Doo Album where Stannard reveals that he found his blues voice.

It’s a blues voice that is unmistakably English. Stannard emotes almost politely, as if these are blues for the grey generation, who continue to live by a code of lost manners.

The country blues laze of ‘Solitary Vacation With The Blues’ is an evocative opener, setting the relaxed tone, and Stannard sings from the heart of his resignation to ageing with good grace. That’s not always positive though, and the gentle ragtime of ‘When You Need Them Most’ masks the loneliness, where 'my life changed from top gear to reverse'.

There’s thinly-disguised bitterness in the protest of ‘Hard Times – 83’, the lyrical content of which rails resignedly but with barbs, at the corporate financial betrayal of the baby-boomer generation by the post-consensus amoral greed-is-good sharks. Bus Depot Blues does get low-down, and if not dirty, at least slightly unhygienic with the swampy, sleazy-sounding snakiness of ‘Flood Water’.

The one slight drawback of the album is blues harp player Howard Birchmore’s over-exuberance. He is an excellent player, perfect for the band but he might have reined back his contribution somewhat. His instrument should flavour and season songs without dominating as it tends to do. Less is more.

Overall, Bus Depot Blues has that uniquely British skiffle feel of musicians enjoying themselves paying tribute to the enduring Afro-American-based melting pot that is the blues, all the while putting their own home-grown stamp on it. Gratifyingly, that means that it sounds natural, organic, and largely free of muso hyperbole or histrionics. That’s very British too, at times evoking that marvellously self-effacing tongue-in-cheek Flanders and Swann atmosphere on a fine album of unpretentious laidback country blues.

www.johnceestannard.co.uk

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January 2018Month
Last
Month
Points Artist / Album Title / Label / * Album of the Month of… (reporter)
1 63
HAYES CARLL / What It Is / Dualtone *RK, *JB,*HB,
2 61
PHIL LEE / The Horse He Rode In On / Palookaville Records *BH, *PvG,
*FB, *PK
3 60
THE DELINES/ Imperial / El Cortez *PK, *FCe, *LK
4 51
VICKY EMERSON / Steady Heart / Independent *MW, *ML
5 42
LULA WILES / What Will We Do / Smithsonian Folkways *MM, *MF
6 34
SUZANNE JARVIE / In The Clear / Wolfe Island *BP
7 29
JESSE DAYTON / On Fire In Nashville / Blue Elan *SZ
8 27
KIERAN GOSS & ANNIE KINSELLA / Oh, The Starlings / Independent
27
CARSON McHONE / Carousel / Loose Music
27
TINY LEGS TIM / Elsewhere Bound / Independent *TV, *FC,
11 26
MANDOLIN ORANGE / Tides of a Teardrop / Yep Roc *BM
12 22
LEYLA McCALLA / Capitalist Blues / Jazz Village *DH
13 21
ROB HERON & THE TEA PAD ORCHESTRA / Soul Of My City *HBr
14 21
SIX MILE GROVE / Million Birds / Independent
15 19
BOB SUMNER / Wasted love songs /Self-released *MG
19
STEVE GUNN / The Unseen in Between / Matador
19
ROBERT ELLIS / Texas Piano Man / New West *CVL, *DHo
18 19
JOSHUA RAY WALKER / Wish you were here / State Fair *MA
19 18
CAM PENNER / At War With Reason / Self-released *LM
20 15
CHARLEY CROCKETT / Lil G.L.'S Blue / Bonanza
21 14
JARED DECK / Bully Pulpit / Self-released *AN, *AL
14
MICHAEL CHAPMAN / True North / Paradise of Bachelors
23 13
INA FORSMAN / Been Meaning To Tell You / RUF *EZ
24 12
KAYLAN FAY / Good Company / Horton
12
RICHARD DOBSON / I Hear Singing / Brambus *JJC
ALBUMS OF THE MONTH (NOT IN TOP 25)
DILLON CARMICHAEL / Hell On An Angel / Riser House *PHe
SELECT CAPTAIN / Off To Save The World / Soundchest *JJ
BRANDON ISAAK / Rise N Shine / Independent *RW
EINAR FLA / Silent String / Grappa *MB
CHAMPAGNE CHARLIE / Sixpack / Self-released *PJ
JAMIE LEE WILSON / Jumping Over Rocks / Self-released *HdB
DALE WATSON / Call Me Lucky / Red House *RH
JEFF TWEEDY / Warm / DBPM *JS
WEST OF EDEN / Flat Earth Society / West Of Music *PH
JODYMOON / A Love Brand New / Self-Released *JF
ANDREW COMBS / Worried Man (Deluxe Edition) / Loose Music *GF
HALDEN WOFFORD & THE HI BEANS / Hard Core Broken Heart /
Independent *MP
JONATHAN BYRD / Jonathan Byrd & the Pickup Cowboys/ *JH
BILL SHANLEY / Midnight Mission / Cauldron Music *NC
MICKEY GALYEAN & CULLEN’s BRIDGE / Songs From The Blue Ridge /
Rebel *HD
JOE JACKSON / Fool / EarMusic *KG
WESTERN YOUTH / WESTERN YOUTH / Independent *BK
TIP JAR / Onward / Independent *FS
KC GROVES / Happy Little Trees / Self-released *JH
TIMBER / The Family / Cornelius Chapel *

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