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Belfast filmmaker John T Davis has long loved country music, enjoyed travel and imagery presented by tales and films of America’s west, now he has come up with his version. Not happy with one western album, but two as simultaneously he releases Last Western Cowboy and Indigo Snow. Davis’ ability as a descriptive storyteller of old, a man raised on western movies and traditional country music both elements have long since seeped into his bloodstream has like a duck to water adapted to songwriting. He takes the listener back to past glories of the big screen.
Blended in alongside the western imagery JT also pays homage to those who flew their B-17s over Nazi Germany in WW2 (“Tailwind”) and how in his hometown things aren’t as they once was. Not when he was boy or more markedly, during his father’s time (“Richards' Electric”). Indigo Snow also features the bright and breezy “Hank’s Song” as he pays tribute to both Hank Williams and traditional country music. Vocally, Davis’ style possesses hints of American singer-songwriter Tom Pacheco. Such are his sometimes weather beaten tones as he tells his tales of travel, young and old love and on “Beargrease” a song about a hobo he met while riding the rails and became fond of; in fact the album is dedicated to the man he got to know of that name.
The Last Western Cowboy has the Hollywood, County Down born Davis speaks on the opening track, title-track “Last Western Cowboy” of how he feels like an old timer, but still has the know how. Bathed in pedal steel (Richard Nelson), mandolin (Ian McAllister) and shuffling rhythm Davis sets the standard, not only for the album but budding western singers.
With excellent lyrics, steeped in old ways and authentic Davis pulls if off because the life of the western pioneer has been an attraction, ever since as a young boy he would dress in western gear. His keen eye for detail is backed, superbly by some priceless musicianship. Not least among the treasures you have “Gas Station Roses”; draped in fiddle (John Fitzpatrick), harmony vocals etc it. With he experience of his internationally recognised film Shellshock Rock (1979) and US filmed Route 66 and Hobo And Heart On The Line and work in States over the years Davis has put it all to good use on his recordings, although there are a couple of less impressive songs on the middle/ backend of the record.
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