I used to spend a LOT of time in record shops, now have a rather impressive hoard of recordings, and, like many collectors, possess a soft spot for good efforts by obscure characters with talent and grit. This means I throw a decent amount of good money after bad and medium-rare product, but it's necessary to find the surprises, the jewels in the trough. One such gem was issued by a gent named Bob Sauls in a release titled Out of the Darkness. The guy is still damn near completely unknown, but that CD is a wonder of individual voice and marrow-deep musical sincerity (and, gawd almighty, could that cat play guitar!). Well, Brother Lou isn't in the same league, but I'm betting he one day might be.
The Devil in Me right from the git features a gent with a huge, booming, in your face voice oft delivering a dark gospel of Sunday services imparting the sins of the world in an acquaintance so knowing that no preacher in the world—be he Catholic lecher, Four-Square snake handler, or Mormon hypocrite—could possibly have dragged his suffering carcass through those endless swamps and come out the other side as wise, cynical, and still perplexed as to what the hell is going on in this vale of fears. When importing a gaggle of session musicians, Lou's songs work best, maintaining an almost carny swing to 'em, but his stripped-down numbers suffer a thinness of atmosphere and push a little too hard. On the other hand, the lead cut, the title track, is dynamite, as are several others.
As said, Bro Lou hasn't attained the solidity that Sauls has, but, man, there's something there waiting to emerge full-blown (catch the rootsy/Broadway tone and arrangement of The Hungry Girl). Through the Wind, for instance, is a bit soapy, though I'm but danged if the presentation isn't almost satirical of itself. Half the CD is dead-on but the other half falls pretty short of what's so evidently lurking just beneath the surface. What Lou's scamping is the gawdawful many hours and sweaty brainworks involved in crafting a rough cut up to jewel intensity (this applies to his sometimes brilliant / sometimes far-too-cliché lyrics as well). Writing's only the beginning, the true work is in the evolution of the song, what separates the artist from the craftsman from the weekend warrior. And, Lou m'boy, stick to the grim and nasty, it's your ace in the deck and natural habitat. As Frank Zappa once asked "Don't we have enough goddamned love songs yet?!?!?!", or words to that effect.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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