Last month, I was struck by Trevor Alguire's Till Sorrow Begins to Call (here) because it's an unusual and distinctive blend of country and folk, a mode we've heard little of, but now comes Stevie Tombstone's Greenwood and it's even more so, almost the kind of material that could well have underwritten Alguire's style. That's not the case, the two are contemporaries, but there are a number of affinities in the musics of the two. Tombstone, however, is a rare lyricist, and the title cut, Greenwood, in its refrain stanza alone displays a downplayed wisdom conveying itself best in intimations tendered rather than made explicit:
Won't go back to Greenwood
…and, lord, don't we all have a Greenwood in our back catalogue? Simple uncluttered lines, but look at the wealth of intimations behind them. If you don't quite get it, then this song's a warning. In aspect, Tombstone's a bit rough on the edges, scruffy, kicked around by life but defiant in a reconciled kind of way. His approach is vaguely like early Band but more in line with that estimable group's antecedents: Pete Seeger, the Carter Family, Woody Guthrie with a touch of Phil Ochs, a Merle Haggard who decided he liked Bob Dylan and Mickey Newbury, a dash of Steve Gibson, and then a very noticeable bent towards the 60s folk scene.
That damn slightly scratchy voice of his is attractive as hell too, classic, and the more you listen, the more you find in it, nor is the gent a slouch when it comes to the guitar, crafting clever subtle melodies and chords around the vocal center. I Wish I was Back in Vegas will hand you a laugh as you bop and shuffle, maybe provoke a memory or three, a fantasy or two, but then every cut here has a down home wistful magic to it. Regardless, though, this talented sonofabitch knows how to come up with really great lines (the stanza cited above is just the beginning) and, above and beyond everything else, I think that's what's going to make his name among fellow musicians. An appreciation of the songs per se will follow right after. Like me, however, you can feel free to dig the whole package, 'cause there's plenty to like.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles