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STEPHEN SIMMONS —HEARSAY (Locke Creek Records)

 

www.StephenSimmonsMusic.com

 

 

Americana East Nashville singer-songwriter, Stephen Simmons’ seventh studio album Hearsay like with all other records by him sent my way, it is addictive listening. Awash in everyday moods, expressions and the struggles of people in both rural and urban environments Tennessee-born and raised, Simmons has an uncanny ability of crafting neat grooves songs that pull on one’s heartstring with incredible ease.

 

Simmons’ music like that of John Fullbright and Justin Townes Earle bounces of the wall and pulsates to give off a freshness few acts today manage to achieve. To do it with such regularity underlines Simmons' incredible talent to set a benchmark for all aspiring acts and himself too. His vocals and acoustic guitar is aided by ace pickers Eric Fritsch (electric guitar, bass), Alex McCollough (pedal steel), Dave Coleman (electric, two-tone guitar), Jen Gunderman (B-3, piano, harmony vocals), Marty Lynds (drums, percussion) and Tim Marks (bass) as he reels off such gems as “I Ain’t Lonely (I’m Just Lonesome)” and beautifully melodic piece “Gold & Silver”. While the first contains hints of Steve Earle, the latter owes more, given a little imagination Don Williams; to whom Simmons notes ‘playing around for fun late at night in the studio with my musician friends led to a semi regular thing we liked to call Don Williams / Irish Whiskey night’. Of a even more rural theme you have “Horse Cave, Kentucky” to go with his I'm a jerk song “Stardust”, mysterious ditty “Santa Cruz Ridge” and with piano leading the way “Hard It Goes” as the above noted Fullbright comes to mind. This as Simmons powers through alongside steel guitar, and speaks of how he’ll be the drunk at the party where he is unknown as he struggles to get over his girl removing herself from his life. 

 

Also of note you have telling ballad, “Emily’s Eyes” as he looks deeply into her eyes, and with a chugging rhythm accompanying him “I’ll Be Your Johnny Cash” with its 1960s edge as country and hints of rockabilly merge to go with arguably his best song. I’m talking about dreamy ode “The Boobie Bungalow Gentleman’s Club”. One of many where Simmons’ lyrics paint vivid and lasting imagery. Stronger than most, other than from those noted earlier in my review. While Hearsay may not be Simmons' most dynamic or full-sounding album but, good enough to earn a place near my player.   

 

                                                                                                    Maurice Hope 

Footnote; Short UK tour end of October, plus one date in Ireland. 

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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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