In the press release for this album, Will Kimbrough is described as the “Sherlock Holmes of songwriting — a sharp-eyed observer of humanity who notes every detail and spares nothing in his analysis.” Men, they’re not wrong. Kimbrough’s music is difficult to nail down, but essentially he’s a country-tinged singer-songwriter who isn’t at all afraid of some old-timey folk music.
Songs like “When Your Loving Comes Around” and “Home Economics” have the dry wit of old Woody Guthrie, while “Soulfully” and “I Want Too Much” allow Kimbrough to slow things down and explore a deeper, more introspective side.
“When I wrote [‘Home Economics’] I knew that I really had something,” Kimbrough says. “It felt like an album could be built around it. So I started going through the 50 or 60 songs I’d written over the past few years and began pulling together the ones that seemed to fit.”
Job done, sir.
Terry Jacoby & Rummler
Remember the soundtracks to the Eddie & the Cruisers movies, recorded by John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band? Don’t worry if you don’t; not many people do. The basic gist was a working blue-collar barroom boogie band doing its best impression of Springsteen. Think John Cougar Mellencamp with all evidence of balls removed completely. It was easy-listening music for the J. Geils generation. Terry Jacoby & Rummler follow that idea, which is ironic because the press release makes a point of stating that there isn’t enough quality new music around these days, and that they want to put that right. That’s all very nice, but when you’re writing hard rock anthems, and Bryan Adams rocks harder, there’s something wrong. Second track “Last Exit” includes a smattering of reggae while they sing of dancing to the rhythm of love, and, frankly, that’s embarrassing.
The ability to play your instruments is important, boys, but don’t forget the heart, soul and, yes, balls.
Linda Marie Smith
Mearra — Selkie from the Sea
Chicago musician Linda Marie Smith has recorded an album that recalls both the ethereal beauty of Kate Bush and the new-age nonsense of Enya. A bit of a Jekyll and Hyde then. “Off the coast of Wales…” is the first line of first track “Ian’s Song,” though quite how much a Chi-Town girl knows about Wales remains a mystery. British people might suggest that the line should go, “Off the coast of Wales, the children of English holiday-makers play with inflatable toys,” but that doesn’t hold the Celtic mystery that Smith is after.
Smith has been compared to the likes of Sarah McLachlan, Jewel and Aimee Mann, but her work doesn’t have any of the poetic beauty that those artists are known for, and her voice isn’t nearly as pretty. She can hold a note, though, and there is a cute charm to ditties like “Mearra.”
North Dakota folk singer Tom Brosseau, now based in L.A., is one of those lyricists who soaks in everyday life and transfers it directly to his larynx, probably via a notebook. “I take the city bus, which is an experience that has plugged me back into humanity,” he says. “The faces, languages, the dress, daily I am part of the mix of what is the real face of this town. … People come to Los Angeles because, as Frank Lloyd Wright said, it’s where everything loose collects.”
That’s great. It’s great that he’s getting out and about, and pulling in inspiration from real people. His vocal style has a high pitch and that can come across a little whiny, but the tunes are strong and so he can be largely forgiven. Unfortunately, all too often the lyrics sound a little Flight of the Conchords, as if patched together at the last second, like a bad stream of consciousness exercise. It’s all too much like, “Here I am, in a place, there’s a girl, she’s wearing this thing, there’s a dude with another dude and they’re doing something over there.” At some point you have to ask yourself, “Who gives a shit?”