Thursday, June 17, 2010

The John Henry's - White Linen
True North

'Hwait, yon verily wandering traveller, note-taker and attention defying audience and dispel fears of a flea-bearded, fleck-shirted folk show their use of the legendary old hammer-yielder's name may imply for, on this third tilt of the tankard, this Canadian coterie crawl through a well-appointed though somewhat barren suburban streetmap of laid-back steel-laden ballads and mild-mannered bar-hymns. They manage to sidestep the cloying self-satisfied pall that cakes West Coast shamericana so prevalent among many unseasoned alt.country coast-clingers, yet they miss by a cow'n' a tree or two the Southern soul-suffused, raggedy-assed resplendence and twisted laments of a Deadstring Brothers or Slobberbone are steeped in. Not to suggest it sounds unduly studied or contrived, or they should have a car-boot sale and take the proceeds into town to the Quick!-A-Cliche arcade but it resembles an elder relative absently doing a crossword in the back-room table before dinner's served, as they'd always done. A roll call of many usual names crop up in articles - Tom Petty, Neil Young, Elvis Costello - there's also vague flutterings of The Byrds, The Coal Porters and maybe The Band (without the weight, oh pun me Peter) as well. Ok, that isn't criticism from expecting some cow-punk, bonkersbilly, wonky tonk (and hell, it ain't remotely in Powderfinger's wet keg) or wannabe Tom Waits 'I smoked Marlboro Red for a week once and my voice is all but shot', or expecting anything much to plunge Parsons' canyons of numberless heartaches or the spellbinding narratives Steve Earle used to mop the floor with but some character, essence and presence is deficient, as is a real lyrical largesse that would lift and sear these into your soul or scrape seashells across your sternum rather more stridently. With that it remains to be seen, and evidence casts doubt upon it, if these still waters have any depths.
Stu Gibson

1 comment:

Michael said...

Dude! I thought you were never coming back.

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