Supported by long-time musical collaborator, James Fildes (electric, acoustic lead guitars, harmony vocals) and a bunch of excellent session musicians from Norway (an area Tom Russell and Tom Pacheco among others have mined successfully over the years) Stuart Warburton delivers a strong set of work. Combining strains of American music and British with an ease that borders on the uncanny there is a seamless feel about his music.
As a songwriter, Warburton keeps the listener’s attention (his use of themes and phrases used in the past don’t harm either) with his pleasing melodies that are littered with hooks as in ‘This Time’ where he makes reference to Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s song ‘Dallas’ (from a DC9) and on ‘The Legacy Of You’ that makes reference to Merle Haggard and how his bottle (‘The Bottle Let Me Down’) has let him down a hundred times. Plus there is his wonderful and most tasteful ‘Say It Like You Mean It (A homage To Dan Penn), on draped in organ and a shuffling beat and clever lyrics it brings to life an era the likes of Bobby Bland, James and Bobby Purity, Solomon Burke and James Carr came and had the good fortune to have Penn, Spooner Oldham and co create the Muscle Shoals,(Alabama) sound. The likes of which it is unlikely we will see again. His song ‘Three Chords And The Truth’ is a good, bright and breezy affair that speaks of being on the road and how he fronted The Rhythmaires for two decades up till 2005 and isn’t to be confused with a song of the same title penned and recorded by Sara Evans.
While with accompanying accordion the Mexican Borderlands come to mind on the hugely evocative (albeit I could have done without the line ‘I’d rather have the whooping cough’) ‘Dolores’. A mite closer to home we have ‘Day-Glo Dashboard Jesus’ that speaks of having Eric Taylor on the CD player, a pack on Marlboro’ lights and crossing the Straits of Dover with his dashboard Jesus. There is a nice touch of humour too as he speaks of it being well travelled and it coming from Hong Kong (makes a change from China!); that is one of the things about his songwriting, he does introduce some neat pieces of irony. One such case being ‘Fragile Heaven’ (traces of John Prine here don’t you think?), ‘What Have We Got To Loose’ and there others to as Stuart uses to great effect the talent of Tore Blestrud (dobro, weissenborn, pedal steel and Spanish guitar), Trond Haug (accordion), Eldar Melkvik (piano, organ) among others on the Norwegian recording. File under, honest hard-working singer-songwriter proud of his heritage and unafraid of sharing it with others and likewise some of theirs too!
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