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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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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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