CD Review – The Amoreys “Tip of My Brain”
Wonderful Rootsy Blues Rock Country (and Klesmer) Album by the Amoreys.
You have to love an album that starts with a guitar solo and ends with klesmer. Well, you don’t, and that’s the pity. The Amorey’s “Tip of My Brain” (2006) is everything you want a rock’n’blues’n’country album to be, but these guys don’t stare at their feet (so Pitchfork doesn’t notice) and Nashville doesn’t notice much between Music Row and Hollywood (so songs like “Charlene” don’t make the writer rich, though it should). Anyhow, I love this album, and you might too if you like a buoyant, tight band with a tongue-in-cheek affection for rootsy music and some of the best lyrics you’ll ever hear.
Almost every song amounts to a character study. This doesn’t make them dull – it makes them riveting. “M&M’s” is from the point of view of a prideful M&M street vendor. “Genius Grant” has a two-bit lothario trying to seduce a rich patroness at a party. “I’ll See You Around” sounds like a transient keeping his strut even as the cops shoo him off, and “Hey Willie” is downright breathtaking: a one-way conversation with a dead guy that mocks his gruesome death and even winks at his sister – black humor that always stays on the right side of the humor line.
These songs and others, like “Procreate and Die,” make masterful use of irony. We see through their flawed characters in ways they don’t realize. It’s rare today that literary skill and taste are used in the service of groovy music. (If you like rootsy music with lyrics that count, also see Anders Osborne. And if Anders Osborne, who I think has a songwriting contract in Nashville, sees this review, he should listen to this album and call some important people.) “Charlene” is as pretty a country song as ever was written, from the point of view of a man who is offering to forsake everything – not that he has anything – for a woman who would be his life preserver. Whichever corporate country crooner covers this song first will be the first to make his next million.
The singer/songwriter – who goes by “Andy” on the Amorey’s website, presumably to avoid the law – has an unhinged quality to his voice that takes a bit of getting used to. Once you’re used to it, you love how it animates his characters. Hey, write to your strength. Still, he can sing the hell out of a ballad when he wants.
The rhythm section is pretty tight and pretty busy; you get the feeling they’re allowed to have fun. Bob Goins, the band’s original guitarist, is a joy. He moves effortlessly among comping, riffing and soloing, carrying a big load in these energetic tunes. His tone makes you wonder why Fender stopped making Telecasters with good humbuckers 30 years ago. Listen to him and steal shit; he’s a lesson in 60 years worth of electric guitar styles. What you might not be able to steal is his capacity to communicate in an inventive, respectful way with the tune itself. He feels the rhythm, he hears the lyrics, he understands the vibe, and he contributes to the “voice” to the song. Humor is a big part of this album, and some of Goins’ guitar interjections just make you laugh. He rocks.
Anyhow, a great album. Anyone listening out there?
This is a slightly edited version of a review I posted on CDBaby. https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/amoreys2