In Louisiana, the summers are hot and sticky, the food is rich and spicy, and the living is free and easy. Kevin Gordon grew up in Louisiana and has spent much of his adult life immersed in the culture and art of the region. He has studied poetry at the prestigious Iowa Poetry Workshop and his songs have been covered by everyone from Todd Snider to Irma Thomas to Keith Richards. On his latest album, Long Gone Time, Gordon utilizes all of these elements to create what may well be the best album of his distinguished career.
“All in the Mystery” opens the album with a chunky rhythm, bluesy guitar chords, and a bit of barrelhouse piano. It’s a rich and evocative opening that transports the listener into the swampy waters of the Mississippi Delta, and for the next hour, Kevin Gordon’s songs keep everything grounded while simultaneously pushing forward.
Long Gone Time, is the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2011 album Gloryland, and Gordon goes back down to same well from which that album was drawn. It is, however, a deep well, and Gordon is able to craft something new out of the time proven ingredients of blues, rock, and the often tumultuous reality of the post-civil rights South.
Long Gone Time was produced by Joe V. McMahan and is divided between acoustic and electric numbers. Bo Ramsey and Lex Price contribute greatly to the acoustic songs while Gordon’s long-time backing band, featuring Ron Eoff, Paul Griffith and McMahan hold down the electric half of the album.
Gordon’s poetic storytelling runs through the album, most notably on “Goodnight Brownie Ford” which is a partially truthful, partially dream-like account of Kevin Gordon’s meeting with the singing cowboy, Brownie Ford, who Gordon met in his hometown shortly before moving to Nashville. The slow and moody,”Letter to Shreveport” foreshadows this meeting with the shared lyrical warning from Ford to Gordon about the pitfalls of the music industry. “Don’t Let Them Mess With Your Music, if you go to Tennessee”, and this album and Gordon’s career seem to demonstrate that the warning was heeded.
Over half the songs on the album clock in at 5:00 minutes or longer, and most of these long songs move at a slow deliberate pace which few artists pull off as effectively as Kevin Gordon. On “GTO”, however, Gordon proves he can still rev things up when he feels like it. The song, which tells the story of Gordon’s father’s stolen car, proves that even when rocking, Gordon is still capable of telling a compelling story.
“Walking on the Levee” is about going home to find yourself a stranger, and the first of two bonus tracks, “Following a Sign (The Preacher’s Wife)” tells a dark tale of a faith healing traveller.
Long Gone Time effectively manages to pull together elements of the finest Southern Literature and the finest Southern roots music into something at once innovative and comfortably familiar. Kevin Gordon’s resonate vocals and poetic lyrics draw the listener into the stories. and the talented musicians, restrained production, and the strong songwriting transfixes and transports.
Long Gone Time is scheduled for a September 4th release. Gordon will appear on NPR’s World Cafe on September 9th, and he will play a headlining show at Nashville’s City Winery on the 14th which will serve as an unofficial but effective kickoff for The Americana Music Association Festival and Conference.