If any single line on Guy Clark’s new album My Favorite Picture of You could sum up the common theme of all eleven tracks, that’s it. It comes about halfway into “Hell Bent on a Heartache”, where the storied songwriter explores his unending yearning for newness. It’s not a song about seeking love so much as it is an admittance of the inevitability of disappointment. Indeed, the coexistence of love and heartbreak – and the various ways the two feed off each other – is at the core of each song on the album. It’s this balance Clark strikes which says the most about what he means by a love song.
There are enough songs in the world about all the easy and obvious ways of love – the first storied glance, the romance and lust, the longing and all the other schmaltz. But, when you get to the raw truth of it all, the stuff that lasts doesn’t do so devoid of heartbreak, but rather in spite of it.
The title track tells the story behind the Polaroid Clark holds on the cover of the disc. It’s a shot of his wife Susanna in the 1970s, when she had just come home to find Guy and his friend Townes Van Zandt drunk again. She was angry and hurt, storming off, full of fire. “You never left but your bags were packed just in case,” he sings, describing her as “nobody’s fool … smarter than me.” It’s not an easy song to hear, but neither is lasting love an easy task. Telling the story in simple terms that are emotional and provocative – and rhyme – is another feat altogether. But, Clark is one of the best.
The disc isn’t all romantic love, though. There’s “Heroes” – a smart, emotional song about soldiers living with PTSD. He flexes his epic story-song muscles on “The Death of Sis Draper” (set to the tune of “Shady Grove”) and turns to commentary on “Good Advice”. The latter seems more a reaction to others trying to offer good advice than it is an attempt to provide some. Though, he does manage a few words of wisdom: “If it’s not one thing, it’s another, and that you can count on.”
But, it’s “I’ll Show Me” – the self-effacing tune which closes the disc – where Clark finally shrugs the downside of his running theme. With wonder and pride, he credits the love: “How’d I get this far, you ask. I’m here today it was no small task.”
Pete Donnelly, who was a member of the legendary band NRBQ, is also a founding member of The Figgs, which has a world-wide fan base, a hearty discography, and has toured and recorded several times with Graham Parker. As the ever active bass player and song writer in The Figgs, founded in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. in 1987, Donnelly has spent the better part of the past 25 years touring with the band, as well as a number of other artists such as Soul Asylum, Mike Viola & The Candy Butchers and Tommy Stinson, Living in the Philadelphia area for the past decade, when not on the road, Pete Donnelly has been performing, engineering and/or producing for a variety of artists, including G. Love, Death Vessel, Carsie Blanton, John Legend, The Capitol Years and Amos Lee.
His latest record “Face the Bird” 2013, is a return to the exploratory side of “home” recording. The result is a wide ranging exposition of songs, unabashedly displaying some far reaching influences. Pete’s Music is built upon sturdy pop melodies, and played with a genuine sense of care, Donnelly’s songs are testaments to his artistry.
Travis Tritt released an album called The Storm on Category 5 Records in 2007 and, not long afterward, the label sank under the murk of scandal, leaving Tritt with no choice but to launch a prolonged legal battle. He eventually won and secured the rights to the Randy Jackson-produced The Storm, which he then retitled The Calm After… (the joke is clear) and added two new songs — covers both, the first being a duet with his daughter Tyler Reese on the Don Henley/Patty Smyth song “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” the second being the Faces’ “Stay with Me” — for good measure. These additions don’t greatly change what is essentially an excellent excursion in soul-injected modern country, one that demonstrates Tritt’s considerable range as a vocalist. As The Storm, it got unjustly buried. Hopefully, as The Calm After… this album will finally find the audience it deserves.
There’s nothing nostalgic about Ottawa’s The Cooper Brothers or their new opus, “Southbound”. Yes they were under wraps for about 20 years following the death of lead vocalist Terry King, but the Coopers made a tentative step forward in 2010 with the release of “In From The Cold” and now plan a fully-fledged return to […]
Committed Anglophiles Wiretree have been plying their trade since 2005. They originally began as solo project for Austin native Kevin Peroni but have since developed into a full band. Now “guided by the power pop light of Big Star”, their new album sets the expectation for tune-encrusted songs from a different time. Yet as much […]
This new addition to the Icon series features 11 timeless Gospel songs done in a raw, delta flavor that only Aaron can deliver. Tracks: 01. Morning Has Broken 02. A Change Is Gonna Come 03. Let It Be 04. Oh Happy Day 05. What A Friend We Have In Jesus 06. I Know I’ve Been […]