Nora Jane Struthers – Nora Jane Struthers (Blue Pig Music)
Review by NBT’s Martin Smit
She leads us into this gentle disturbance, riding in on sweet delicate fiddle, without complication she stretches this thriller into something haunting, and though the fear is tangible, though the dread shifts just around the melody, this murder ballad is simply beautiful, a brave opening, a daring introduction.
This album takes place in the ‘other’ in the timeless weightless ‘other’ that all great music inhabits. It can seem ancient, it can hit you hard with its modern soul, it is full of dreaming, of those dangerous whispers barely heard from trees shifting (willingly?) in the wind. It is a slow dance it is a frantic jig, it is quiet personal, it is a rowdy Saturday night barn dance hooked already into the Sunday morning regret.
This album takes place in that dark Americana place, where love pulses with uncertainty, where tradition can be saving or can be shackles, but she writes the sad song well, filling it with hope and empathy, an unfettered joy in the telling of the story.
Musically this is simply exquisite, no pastiche of clichés, no feeling that this is archived sounds from long ago, restructured as a technical thesis on what is Roots and what is Country. This is the sound of music playing on the radio in a farm kitchen; this is the sound on my mp3 player when I want to escape the dull city day.
These guys, this woman, LOVE playing these songs creating this music, and you will love listening to this album
White Line And Stars – Rosehill (Cypress Creek Records)
Another review from Cobus Rossouw creator of 88 Kilos of Sunshine
I’m a long way from Texas as I write this. Outside it’s Africa and traffic but in my ears I have Heartland and Outlaws, guitars and thumping drums.
Mitch McBain and Blake Meyers (formerly the Texas High Life frontmen) have brought us an album that should be an instant classic in the genre and catapult them to fame and fortune. I say this knowing full well that it takes more than a great album with great tunes and meaningful lyrics to make it in the music trade, but the duo have shown wisdom in getting the right producer in Radney Foster and this will make all the difference.
Starting with the material, it is obvious that Meyers and McBain are mature, skilled and passionate. Their songs are a balanced trade-off between the Austin twang of guitar-dominated rock and a story-telling lyricism that is to Texas what Springsteen is to Jersey. (That’s a big statement I know but it’s there, for all to hear, on tracks like “Believer”, “Midnight America” and “Picassos for Pesos”.)
If I have a criticism, and bear in mind this is a personal one, it’s that the music is not pushing any serious boundaries, either in tone or in arrangement. But then I know for a fact I’m not the market…, my idea of Texas Country is Kinky Friedman for goodness sake. Thus, if the Pixies was your cuppa then this is not for you, but believe me, White Lines and Stars will set the Lone Star State on fire!
And it’ll do this because it is perfectly pitched. Foster’s presence ensures that all the sweet spots are hit and that everything is in the perfect place. Hold onto your hats Texans, these boys are gonna take over. This glass of whiskey looks more than half full to me.
Now if you could just look like Taylor Swift you’d be scooping Grammys next year.
Both these albums where brought to NBT attention by the ever cool Lotos Nile
Hear tracks from both these albums on the NBT Podcast going out on the 7th October 2010