More Storms Comin'
A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
Is it a sin to show off? I sure hope not, 'cause Mark Selby is sizzling on his new CD, More Storms Comin', a raucous Vanguard debut of all original tunes. But folk and acoustic purists BEWARE! This music positively pounds the foundations - he singlehandedly throws down more thunder than a five man band at a live jam! Okay, well, he does have some help from bass players Denny Dadmun-Bixby, Jack Sundrud (tracks 6,7,8) and Glenn Worf (Smoked), but it's Selby playing all the others: slide, rhythm, acoustic and dobro.
This is Selby at his best - moaning into the music with enough bluesy grooves to satisfy a Mississippi mud cat, gritty enough to believe that he's been around the block a few times, and seasoned with butter-melting lyric sensitivity. He mixes toughness with tenderness in a package too cool to ignore, and too musically sound to turn down. I cranked it up and couldn't sit still!
Tia Sillers, a long-time friend and music writing pal, co-wrote many of the tunes on this release. On the opener, Don't You Throw That Mojo on Me, he also had the help of Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who stayed at #1 for a rock-chart-defying 17 weeks with another Selby song, Blue on Black, back in 1998. A collaboration with Craig Fuller (Little Feat/Pure Prairie League) produced You're Gonna Miss My Love. What Am I Doin, one of only three on the album he wrote all by his lonesome, was my favorite! This probably had more to do with Reese Wynans' swinging saloon-style piano pecking followed by one of Selby's fleet-fingered signature riffs on the electric guitar. A club-rocking tune from way back! Oh, and did I mention the dobro? Down By the Tracks (mixed up with Smoked for the number 8 slot on the CD) might just as well be called Dobro Showcase. Seems that another one of Selby's skills is to take a "country" instrument and funk it into a hi-fidelity blues-tuned mo-sheen. Way cool. Sounds just like the train it's supposed to be! 'Hurricane' Tim Gonzalez blowing harmonica begs this song be taken to Beale Street!
Strong back-up vocals from Bekka Bramlett and Crystal Taliefero reinforce the quality of the melodies. As if Selby needed the help.... The lyrics passed my finicky fancy all by themselves. Except for Smoked, which, regardless of Kim Carnes' crooning in the background, just seemed to lack the poetic punch of the others. Sounded a bit like rhyming for the sake of rhyming; trite for my tastes. But hey, one out of eleven ain't bad! For the most part the ladies added an extra zing to already punchy tag lines and choruses. I know I like a song when I'm humming it later in the day, or when I've got the words memorized by the second or third spin. These are stand-up lyrics sung with backbone - Selby's sultry pipes included. Authentic. Self-assured. Driven by the innovative Chuck Fields on drums and percussion, these tunes take you on a great, rock ride!
But Selby ain't just bustin' chops. Sure, he's got all that musical training to fall back on. And yes, he's had years of 'practice' touring internationally while still an indie artist. But this guy's a pro. With the strength of Vanguard's legendary line-up behind him, I believe it's Selby's turn to shine. This solo workout is sure to mark him for the rest of the world as the versatile musician that Nashville has long-since recognized (he's won some fairly prestigious awards from BMI and the Nashville Songwriters Association in his song-writing career). Check out BMI's website and take a gander for yourself. They are all there - eight pages of tunes all registered to him!
Just like he sings in the title cut, More Storms Comin, certain things seem inevitable in life. I hope one of them is more Selby comin' our way.
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Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz