Actor and musician (or musician and actor), seems like an all-round good guy, living life to the full and keen for us to have some fun with him. He is one very fine guitar player and has got a cohort of familiar Nashville names to help out here - Jen Gunderman, Dave Jacques and Mark Horn of The Derailers amongst them. A joyful melange of American sounds from the modern country of I Surrender (as in, I could imagine Mary Chapin Carpenter singing it)to the Cuban rhythms of Chano Pozo's Shoes, Alchemy displays a familiarity with and love for all the rich veins of twentieth century American music.
Lyrically, there's a lot of unembarrassed hokum here, from the faux-voodoo of Conjurin' to the fakest of fake shiver-me-timbers accents for Pirate Song. This has a cheerful chorus of 'We'll all go down, we'll all go down with the ship' and I saw Tom Mason perform this when I was in the company of a man whose boat had indeed sunk beneath him. It's a measure of the songs pantomine qualities that my companion just grimaced a little, then grinned. There's a loose theme of magic, myth and mystery going on here but Little Walter and Chano Pozo's Shoes are testament to Tom Mason's deep love affair wth music. Mostly it's all about as serious as Kirsty McColl's 'In These Shoes?'.
What is unusual for an Americana record is that songs are frequently extended with long instrumental developments that are absolutely the best reason for getting hold of this cd. Always interesting and coloured by some lovely guitar work from the man himself there is never a sense of these passages rambling on aimlessly but, rather, a strong sense of the thread of the song hanging in the air with all the musicians dancing around it before coming back to the original tune. The Clown falls Down and Stealing Stars are both particularly fine examples of what these guys can do and make you feel that an evening listening to them play would be an evening well spent.
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