Monday, 30 November 2015

Ethan Johns & The Black Eyed Dogs - Silver Liner, album review


The opening title track on this album is a large, dangerous tease – for the same but also two different reasons: it is so effectively/superbly similar to early Neil Young [you could name a few songs] that it seems to be begging for a plagiarism lawsuit; and it is also one of only two songs on the album to sound like this!

It isn’t that the rest doesn’t match the quality – if echoing – of the opener, though I think it is quite a different quality, good as it is. Ethan Jones is better known to those who know [not me] as a producer of and player with others, and this solo outing, his third, reflects that supporting flair rather than a unique style. Indeed, the other early tracks on the album remind variously of Warren Zevron and even more so Tom Petty – both good influences, and there are others – but unlike Silver Lining as a song, I wouldn’t be hurrying to return to hear. The other Young-ish track is seventh Six and Nine with pedal steel and Young-esque harmonies across its eight and a half minutes. I know: numbers. I’m flagging a little for something to say, but I should stress the harmonies are sweetly superb, and this song does build its atmospherics.

Eighth Dark Fire is a prettily played acoustic folk song, vocal chorus gently in the background: angelic opposite a slightly brooding other tone. This is a lovely and strong track. Ninth and closer I’m Coming Home sustains this sweet-folk, acoustic finger-plucked guitar approach and is again a fine song – these final three a memorable finish to the album which begins, I will now add, with accompanying vocal by Gillian Welch.

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