What hooked me to this unique CD was the second cut, Paper Sack, a lament about alcoholism, a slo-blues grilled with knowing and experience backgrounded by accordion and banjo, Lemhouse's weeping slide atop, haunting and morose. Many comparisons are made of this guy to Waits, Dylan, and others, but further citations to Redbone, Cohen, Fahey, Cale, Cooder, and others are equally appropriate, not to mention the hog-jowl forebears illuminated in the genre's history, 'cause Lemhouse nails them too.
Leroy Feller's Blues snaps into a brisk uptempo mainline, a Dire Straits-ish number with smooth organ laying out as highway blacktop flies by, then Never Me sets up an Appalachan stomp and yowl, something out of Deliverance, before descending into chunky backwoods fire and smoke in the strange Cluck Old Hen. The whole CD refuses to stay rooted to a single style, bouncing all over the rootsy landscape with whanging slide chords, mosquito pizzicato, backwoods balladry, swaying runs, and primal rhythms. The guitarist's skill and earnestness earned him a support slot with Jimmie Vaughn, and Junior Brown—as well as fellow labelmates, the uproarious Asylum Street Spankers—and others.
Lemhouse also packs grinning wit into cuts like The Queen of Easy Street and You're a Bastard, songs dancing a boozy country fast step to the singer's declaiming voice and dancing slide, or The Unofficial Ballad of Story Musgrave, a hilarious tune about a fame-obsessed astronaut. Then, of course, there's the back cover snapshot of a broke-down business sign selling "Toys" and "Hand Guns"…from the same venue! Little, I needn't say further, about this CD is orthodox though it assumes the trappings of antiquity beautifully, grittily, and convincingly.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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