Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: The Big Nowhere – Pull Down the Moon

This project started when Billy Crowe, late of UK goth/shoegaze act Summersalt and Simon Sinclair of edgy Glasgow funk band Brown Eye Superfly decided to join forces and combine the songs that for one reason or another didn’t fit in with either of their other projects. The first question that comes to mind here is that this might be a parody. Well, maybe a little. The Big Nowhere fall somewhere between the Nashville gothic of the Dead Cowboys, the over-the-top C&W silliness of David Allan Coe  and the deadpan, straight-up country satire of Uncle Leon & the Alibis. Musically, they manage to be simultaneously true to their influences (the usual suspects: Hank, Johnny, Lefty) while adding a completely unexpected playfulness. For example, the lead instrument on Why Won’t You Make My Telephone Ring is a reverby Vox organ, hardly something you’d hear on a Nashville session from 1955.

The cd opens very cleverly with Some Kind of Sickness, a dead-on evocation of an old 78 right down to the scratches across the grooves and the unmistakable quaver of a warp in the record. I Promise You Honey I Was Out with the Guys sets the tone for much of the rest of the album, mostly acoustic and completely deadpan, produced with care and good taste yet spiked with a pingy little electric guitar part that would sound vastly more at home on, say, an early 10,000 Maniacs album. I Got Love nicks the melody of the oldies radio chestnut Help by Bobby Bare, strips away the cliches and actually makes it palatable. Last Night with Lucy-Anne reverts to a musically straight-up but lyrically tongue-in-cheek feel.

A horn section, of all things, kicks off the 6/8 ballad Johnny Walker Red, which starts out sad but doesn’t stay that way long. On Untitled Satan Song, the narrator addresses the man with the forked tongue and the tail with the utmost respect even though he stole the poor guy’s girl (maybe he doesn’t want to end up where she’s going). By contrast, the murder ballad My Name Is Bob Willis, complete with police radio sample, is stark and haunting. Song for Suzannah takes the point of view of someone on the receiving end of the gun, with a neat trick ending. The album tails off toward the end, but overall it’s a lot of fun, more so the more closely you listen.

May 20, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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