Born in small town Texas, reared in Forth Worth and now based in Nashville, Cale Tyson’s a rising new star in the old time country firmament and High On Lonesome, his second EP (it’s more a mini-album), pays testament to the roots of his country raising.
Sporting a yodeling twang in his delivery that evokes thoughts of Hank Williams and Jimmy Rodgers, Tyson wears his influences emblazoned on his sleeve and in his vocals. The reverb Hawaiian guitar intro to Honky Tonk Moan can’t help but recall Patsy Cline’s Walking After Midnight while the pedal steel and brushed drums are like a time machine trip to the vintage days of the Opry.
Mining a traditional honky tonk theme of booze and broken hearts, the twangy Old Time Blues is George Jones through a Gram Parsons filter, the waltzing Thorn In My Side with its saloon piano channels both Hank and Ernest Tubb with just a touch of Goodnight Irene to the melody while I detected a definite hint of Jim Reeves among the weeping pedal steel of the slow waltzing heartache Is The Flame Burning Low, a song that could be carbon dated to the 50s.
But, for all the retro familiarity, Tyson still has a couple of surprises up his sleeve. With its sorrowful musical tone, the Willie Nelson-like, fiddle-accompanied Not Missin’ You ticks the same throwback boxes, but, rather than the usual lyric about being left alone (having just done that in the bitter memories of Lonesome In Tennessee where he tells ‘the girls of the night’ that his departed lover’s actually dead), here he celebrates having worked through his heartache.
And then there’s Long Gone Girl, a number that eschews retro altogether, the band summoning a spectral dark mood somewhere between a dry desert and a night rain soaked urban street as, to a slurred drum beat and moaning bluesy guitar, adopting an heavy-lidded delivery, Tyson unfolds the story of a musician, back in Texas for the night, burned like a cigarette by his coke-addled old flame, a wholly unexpected turn of musical and stylistic events that reveals Tyson to be as much a man of today as yesterday.
With an album is in the works, the future could be his for the taking too.
Review by: Mike Davies
‘High On Lonesome’ EP will be released digitally on Clubhouse Records on October 27th