Better Than Very Good
This is an album collecting an original EP and other songs together to deliver eleven Country/bluegrass/Americana [oh this naming…], but more importantly, superbly played and delightful songs.
Stewart’s dobro and fiddle playing is prominent and excellent throughout, but his other first-rate instrument is his vocal, a sonorous tenor with just enough twang to put the right kind of pleasing vowels in Country. Check out Free Born Man where the opening tandem of dobro and voice resonates sweetly – that dobro playing simply superb. This is a hot song.
The album’s title track sets it all up with dobro and naturally warbled singing combining in a country blues that rocks as much as it rolls on hypnotically. This is followed by Flat-out Lonesome and the pace is slowed slightly to showcase the very fine singing, a song lamenting loss in the way only Country can with such musical empathy. By third Heartbreakin’ Machine we are won over – the class emanates throughout: mandolin and dobro licks; tight vocal chorus; dobro solo; distinctive vocal. If you aren’t weaving to the taut rhythms here you are out for the night.
There’s a lot of very good Country out there at the moment. This is better.