Some days I despair when I look at the pile of albums waiting to review and then other days I stumble on ‘rough diamonds’ like this and can’t wait to scream it’s delights to the world at large!
First of all, a friend in America suggested to John Monk from Pickxen that he contact me via the Twitter; which he did then followed it up with the CD and included a charming letter that made me want to listen to their music straight away.
Probably because Laura Monk’s delicious voice reminded me of the young Nanci Griffith I was immediately entranced with the simplicity of opening track Better in Tennessee and remained through to the end.
When the nifty banjo picking and Twangtastic guitar on track #2 7lb Rhyme filtered from the speakers I knew I was listening to something really special, and the bittersweet love song more than matches the music too.
Pickxen are a trio, Laura and John Monk alongside Michael Garvey and are based in and around Atlanta Georgia, and much to my personal delight have christened themselves, Pixie, Dixie and Micksy!
Laura’s warm and sensitive voice will melt even the coldest of hearts on Weight (Sic Transit Gloria Mundi) yet later, on Star she rocks the pants off another sad love song.
Baring in mind I’d never even heard of Pickxen 7 days ago, Picks n Vittles has the ability to sound like I’ve known the songs all my life; with none being any finer than Harmony which sounds like it was written to be the last song you would ever hear; and if it was it would be a great way to go.
The album close with the only cover version here; a live version of Wayfaring Stranger that showcases Laura’s marvellous voice and John’s fancy geetar pickin’ to full and glorious effect and fades out like a vinyl record before a (well known) ladies voice says “We’re closed!” It’s a cool way to close out a very interesting and, indeed ‘cool’ album.
With intricately complex guitar, banjo and bass throughout and some wonderful arrangements on songs like Poor Lucy’s Crooked Mile and Breath I can’t help but wonder why this group haven’t ventured North of the Mason-Dixon Line……they certainly deserve a wider audience.
As I said in the intro, Laura’s voice does remind me of a young Nanci Griffith at times, but at others Allison Krauss springs to mind and at least once I thought I could be listening to a young sibling of Emmylou Harris……but all along it was the smoky sultriness of Laura Monk. Funny that.
Released June 1st 2016
#This review was first published on the Rocking Magpie website https://rockingmagpie.wordpress.com/