It only takes a spark to create a flame. Chris Daniels' efforts provide an acoustic guitar and vocal linchpin around which The Kings and an incredible roster of guests ignite. Written in a poly-roots style, Western themes intersperse with Professor Longhair in a NOLA second line rhumba, Latin Conjunto, swamp pop, bluegrass and country. Amidst this splendor of smoky bars, dusty towns, vivid scenery, yearning hearts and grinding gears, Daniels has a distinct word/world view that is fueled by the unique fire of the slide guitar.
Speaking of slide, how do Sonny Landreth, Tony Furtado and Sam Broussard hit ya? How about Bill Payne, Steve Riley, Sam Bush, Richie Furay and Mollie O'Brien? These are some of the spicy notes mixed into the roux provided by The Kings. The bluegrassy tinge of many of these musicians naturally stems from the time spent by Daniels and the Kings on many a Telluride stage. The whole disk is huge jam planted in the rootstock and each of these guys has a lot of history together as they, in some form, have been playing with Chris in one band or another since the middle 70s.
The songs reflect the depth and breadth of all these giants from a bouncing jump sound found in Jump, written by Dave Steen of the Jayhawks to an eerie song, The Spark, which compares a fading relationship to the Western wildfires of last summer. Alt country fills the regretful If I'd Only Taken You Dancing and Conjunto flavors Way Out West. I'm Still Looking and At Last are sad with the light of realism as they lightly sway to a very mild Bossa Nova beat. It carries the tristesse very effectively. Tuesday Man has a nice acoustic band feel with restrained clarinet work that yields a faint Western Swing jive.
The disk is enjoyable, interesting for the guests and moves nicely. My only regret is that it did not have more of The Spark to kick it up a notch.
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