||Montgomery On My Mind
Cow Island CIM015
Church On Saturday Night - Pan American - I Can't Help It - I'm A Long Gone Daddy - Don's Bop - Lovesick Blues - Take This Chains From My Heart - Montgomery On My Mind
Coming from Cow Island your finest purveyor of today's true country music and Arty Hill comes this tribute to one of the greatest songwriter of all times: Hank Williams. And one couldn't imagine a better band to do this than the one called the Long Done Daddies, don't you think?
The good thing is that they never try to recreate Hank's sound. They play Williams songs their own way. "Pan American" is driven by a hot fiddle (played by guest Patrick McAvinue) echoed by a solid dobro, for a very "bluegrassy" result. Their take on "Lovesick Blues" is in the same vein, almost all acoustic.
I couldn't believe you could bring something to the near perfection of "I Can't Help It". But Arty Hill did, and as incredible as it may sound, it seems evident. They muscle "I'm A Long Gone Daddy" and turn it into a rockin' number. More surprising (but a good surprise), they apply the same treatment to "Take These Chains From My Heart".
Another proof of their talent is the three originals they wrote that perfectly blend with Williams' songs. "Church On Saturday Night" is a tribute to the glorious days of Country Music and the Grand Ole Opry. With lyrics like "Now they can take the Opry / Make it slick and loud / slap it on a T-shirt and sell it to the crowd / but that don't make Country" you're sure that this culture is in good hands (and I bet Dale Watson would have loved to write such lyrics).
"Montgomery On My Mind" is a beautiful love songs that takes place in Montgomery, hometown of Williams and "Don's Bop" is an instrumental tribute to Don Helms, steel guitar player in the Drifting Cowboys.
Hank would sure be very proud.
||Back On The Rail
Cow Island Music CIM12
Living on the Road Again - Jackson Shake - Me & My Glass Jaw - Big Daddy's Rye - I Left Highlandtown - Based on Real Life - It Ain't Working - Drifting In - Back On The Rail - I Ate Through the Jail -Tammerlane - When The Sparks Come Falling Down
First issued in 2005, Arty Hill's debut album is now reissued by the fine folks at Cow Island, and it's a nice addition to their catalog that already counts The Starline Rhythm Boys, The Dixons, Nate Gibson, Lil Mo in their rank.
On this entirely self-penned album, this three piece band (accoustic rhythm guitar, twangy lead guitar and drums) mixes with success straight Honky Tonk (Me & My Glass Jaw, Drifting In), uptembo numbers with a good dose of rockabilly (Big Daddy Ryes, It Ain't Working and I Ate Through The Jail based upon a Scotty Moore kind of guitar lick.), and country ballads with solid and intelligent lyrics.
Musically, they are a very cohesive trio : Arty has the perfect voice for that kind of stuff that reminds me a bit of Cam Wagner from Jimmy Roy's Five Stars Hillbillies (by the way what happened to Cam?). Dave Chappell's telecaster embellishes the tracks with tasty licks, his guitar talks, answers to Arty, makes you cry, man ! this piece of wood is alive. Last but not least, Craig Stevens. There's no need of flashy drumming for this kind of music, Craig's style is spare but efficient and fits completely with the rest.
This is what country music should be : real music by real people for real folks.
. Available here.