Friday, 23 October 2015

Bob Collum & the Welfare Mothers - Little Rock, album review

Okie Bob from Basildon

Bob Collum is a kindred spirit of sorts, an American ex-pat living in England – Basildon – and reflecting on his native roots, in this case his home state Oklahoma and therefore the South. This takes a wide swipe at remembrance: there is Locust Grove which recalls the murder of three girl scouts in his home town of Tulsa in 1977, not so much a lament and more conveying the sense of unknowing about the motives for the killings; then Johnny Held ‘Em Down which is more contemporary, direct and critical, rueing the flying of the Confederate flag and the hatred rather than pride it too often actually represents, disturbingly and sadly presaging the recent Charleston church shootings.

There is a genteel Country musicality pervading all of the fine songs on the album, nine self-penned: the title track exemplifying this with, lyrically, its nostalgic chorus I guess somebody heard Little Rock calling, calling me back home again, and musically, the sweet songcraft, Bob’s pleasant, ‘American’ voice [like me, he hasn’t lost the accent], the light but affecting pedal steel of Allan Kelley, and the equally light but affecting vocal harmony from Marianne Hyatt.

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