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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
Reckless Saints are husband and wife duo Roy Schneider and Kim Mayfield (acoustic guitar, baritone ukulele, mandolin, piano) and a hugely talented unit! With them utilising the players they have at hand that includes guests Charlie McCoy (harmonica), Freebo (bass) and Gurf Morlix. Who fittingly, plays lead guitar on the albums only cover song, Election Day. Written by Morlix’s late friend unique country singer-songwriter Blaze Foley it adds much to an album that’s otherwise add up of eight originals compositions from Schneider plus Mayfield’s two (Ring Around The Moon and Buddha Baby). Schneider’s songwriting started around twenty years ago when he was but 17, and with him having experienced a traumatic year during the 1980s. Now an album or two later, two of which Ten From The Pen (2015) and Walls That Talk (2012) feature fellow singer-songwriter Mayfield.
Foley’s song that rounds off the record comes at an appropriate time. Not I hasten to add because there is anything lacking in Schneider’s material or for that matter his playing of acoustic, bass, electric lead guitar, dobro, drums, percussion, harmonica or banjo because there’s not. For he is the business. I love the momentum of the record, albeit Mayfield’s slow ballad, Ring Around The Moon does break the thread (continuity), and maybe would have fit better had it placed later in the record.
Among the record’s finest moments include the aching fiddle (Kevin Aland) and electric lead guitar fuelled ballad If I Die Tomorrow. Mayfield’s outstanding lead vocals (she sounds most like Eilen Jewel) handling of the painstaking ballad is first class. Hence the track registers high on the popularity stakes. In the immediate running order, you also have such delights as the piano and fiddle adorned Subjugated Love, and with Schneider soundeding as good as at any time on the record, Jump In (as Mayfield provides some electric harmony vocals to go with RS’s harmonica, dobro etc). While with hints of Chris Hillman, and the Desert Rose Band Walkin’ On A Wire you have yet another gem. It is like the duo tried to place as many standout songs on the first half of the record it is untru, because you also have Poison Arrow figure as the fifth track. Fans of the Cactus Blossoms will love this, and on going way back I also detect favourable Don and Phil Everly. They are that good. On showing great urgency, Angels On The Road enjoys a country rock feel. Good it is too.
With me fast becoming a fan of an act entirely new to me, I can’t help but think Schneider is the real deal. A great discovery. Runaway Train keeps up the momentum as he mixes in various influences, before moving to the penultimate track sensitive ode After The Storm. His lead vocals come complete with dobro, harmonies and interesting lyrics ensure a perfect build up to the Blaze Foley closer.
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