A battered old bastardized gibson guitar, gravel, grit, mud, Fred McDowell, red skies, wood shack, dry bones and a locket Of a woman who’s much too good fo a man are all part of the visionary world of Lincoln Durham’s debut album The Shovel vs The Howling Bones. He hails from the hills of southwest Texas and his music was raised on the roots of bluegrass and blues. To have captured more than a fleeting interest from Ray Wylie Hubbard is testimony to the mans passion as Ray produced the album with George Reiff.
Ray collared Michael Clark Lorenzo (Novelist/Poet/Author) to write Lincoln Durham’s biography which reads like a road trip…a nice twist and recollection of his first introducton to the music of Lincoln Durham as they were drivin’ down Purgatory Road just outside of Wimberley as the sun’s goin’ down…
Lincoln Durham simply owns the stage! Equipped with old, makeshift 1950s amps, resonators, fiddles, harmonicas, tin can microphones, slides, stomp boards and you name it, Lincoln gives birth to a sound that transcends genres. His dark, poetic and raw writing style is reminiscent of his mentor R.W. Hubbard, telling tales that Poe would have been proud of. His guitar work is like a locomotive pumping and driving the runaway train that is Lincoln Durham and his music. This is not to imply that any of it is in any way out of control. On the contrary, he never stops driving that train.
Comparisons by Ray Wylie Hubbard of his current pride and glory to Son House and Townes Van Zandt set very high standards; both musicially and lyrically and The Shovel vs The Howling Bones do live up to both. The opener ‘Drifting Wood‘ sets the stage with its stripped down drum beat, driving blues guitar slide and a gravelly voiced Lincoln Durham. It has a dirty raw sound that raises those neck hairs and leaves you wanting more, his music is stripped back bare roots stuff.
The album contrasts between strong accoustic to blues rock. A grass roots sound shines through with mandolin and guitar which get roughed up by harmonica, old guitar pick-ups, trash cans and even birdfeeders (How Does a Crow Fly)! A more soothing side sneaks on through in places with an old rag sounding Clementine which skips along like a gravelly Mississippi John Hurt.
Lyrically the album is filled with tales of lost dreams…
“It is my agony put into words and music via 11 songs,” Lincoln explains. “It is the story of building dreams and tearing down those dreams all in the same moment. I am both the shovel and the howling bones. Burying while at the same time howling and contesting my own burial. It is my existence.”
The sentiment is buried in blues, gospel and soul, steady and solid ingredients that helped make likes of Led Zeppelin and Mavis Staples. It strides between several genres that make it hard to pin down but it has all the feel of an early rock classic, it’s not contrived and a great listen! Sit back and turn the volume up!