Ya gotta love someone bold enough to venture to overturn the colloquial oxymoron of 'Southern culture'; even more, ya gotta admire the guy who can do it. Now, Bryan Clarke ain't the only cat from below or above the Mason-Dixon to act on this—Marshall Tucker succeeded, as well as Madura, Hydra, and several other ensembles—but it's been too long since anyone took the job as seriously as this an' ya need wait no further than the first cut off the line, Voodoo Flame, to realize it.
Then comes the uniquely titled Alabama Macedonia Blackwater Church of Christ, the mere naming of which should win some kind of prize, a song sorta like the Doobies meet Dan Fogelberg with a bit of Bob Meighan, tuneful as you please. In only six stanzas, Clark non-judgmentally captures an elusive slice of America: the evangelical backwater with its enigma of populist religion (echoed again at the close of I Heard a Voice). Of course that's followed by the darker Walls of Hell, and dig the way Clark has with words:
Well, they're redecorating just south of the border
Like Alabama Macedonia, it's not a damnation gig, not a denominationalistic reproof from the Book of Life, just a spooky recitation of what is, what can't be ignored, the flip side of smiles and howdy-do, here well painted and keenly set. And, man, an uber-lyrical guitar solo just puts the icing on the devils-food cake. Between Clark (vocals, guitars), Adam Fluhrer (guitars), Benjamin "Mo" Levine (bass), and John Toomey (drums), all the bases are covered in a tight unit. Them boys know how to play, every so often backed by horns (uncredited), B-3, pedal steel, and backing vocals for a full-blooded sound, for breezy slink (Transistor Love), rhythmic mellifluity, whatever ya want…but hey…pay special attention to them thar gee-tars Clark and Fluhrer wrangle through it all. Whew!, they are tay-steeeeee and then some. Classy.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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