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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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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
FS

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