The other side of the Mountain Music with lots of down-town Chicago attitude
This album has been kicking around my desk for a few weeks now and has even had a couple of journeys in the car; as I try to get my head around where Al Scorch is coming from and going to with his debut album.
When I first listened all I heard were the banjos and fiddles and chunka-chunka guitar playing and I obviously didn’t like it; because I don’t like Mountain Music. But; here’s the rub – I did like it; especially the more I’ve played it.
It was while listening on the car stereo that the pieces fell into place – this is Hillbilly/Bluegrass music but with a chip on its shoulder. This isn’t music made in the Hills of Kentucky but most likely in the back streets of Chicago where Scorch was born and raised by a Mother from Missouri; which accounts for the banjo instead of a Stratocaster.
Opening track Board up the Windows owes more to the Pogues than it does to Bill Monroe as the banjo and fiddle playing are just as frantic as Scorch’s breathless singing throughout and; by Jove – I like it a lot!
The Punk thread weaves in and out of quite a few songs but The Hearse Driver is pure Southern Gothic with a mischievous twinkle in its eye.
Giant Wars and Dinosaurs is 100mph Gipsy Folk that will be a sure fire hit when played live, but it’s only when you read the accompanying lyrics that you find it’s a bit of a protest song as is Hard Times which could easily be a Woody Guthrie LP played at 78RPM.
The album ends with the title track, TIRED GHOSTLY TOWN which is what it says on the tin; a song about a tired Ghost Town that never recovers after an accident at a foundry. The slow New Orleans style waltz backbeat and softly brushed drums fit perfectly with Scorch’s weary but angry voice.
Each song is a story from the heart and some of the lyrics are put together exceptionally well but the skipping from genre to genre make the album difficult to listen to in one sitting; but my overall feeling is that Al Scorch and the Country Soul Ensemble with breathe fire and brimstone into each and every track when performed live.
*Released November 2012