Western Centuries – Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records – 6 April 2018
With Cahalen Morrison, Ethan Lawton and Jim Miller (former lead guitarist with Donna The Buffalo) all taking lead vocals, writing the songs (each providing four of the 12 tracks) and switching between instruments, Western Centuries offer a range of colours within their overall Western Swing and honky-tonk framework. Indeed, they even have a track entitled My Own Private Honky Tonk, a drinking alone romp that, skiddling along on slap bass and boogie-woogie piano, serves as an apt description of the album itself.
It open on Cajun notes with the Lawton-sung Far From Home, newcomer Leo Grassl’s pedal steel streaking song about the experiences of a Vietnam veteran, both in country and on his return home to a nation that didn’t want to know, a similar musical vibe evident on the brushed drums and accordion shuffle of Borrow Time.
Back in swing territory, you’ll also find the easy-rolling-lope of Cloud of Woes while further honky tonk brews are served up on the addiction-themed three-part sung Wild You Run, the Haggard-like How Many More Miles To Babylon and Miller’s deeply autobiographical twang guitar-driven number Wild Birds.
Looking more to Southern country blues, Earthly Justice with its reflections on barflies and their troubles features slide guitar and reminded me of the Ray Sawyer jams of Dr Hook & The Medicine Show as much as Drive By Truckers, the band striking more soulful notes on the heartbreak waltzer Rocks and Flame with its organ solo and slide guitar and the backbeat groove of Three Swallows. By contrast, Time Does The Rest is a heavier, rockier slow blues waltz that shows they can flex muscle with the hardest and stands in musical contrast to the tenderness of lines like “Your heart knows what’s best. Hold her close, the lips will confess. Let it rise let it fall, time does the rest“.
It ends in bilingual mode, heading to the border with the accordion-coloured, steady drumbeat Texicali Warm Guns, a song written by Morrison that, sung in English and Spanish, reflects on becoming the victim of your own flaws in matters of the heart and is, essentially about seeking reconciliation, both individually and universally as we “shake hands with anyone when we lay down our warm guns.” Country songs to drink to, dance to and cry to, get lost in the flood.
Order via http://smarturl.it/songsfromthedeluge
For their upcoming US and Canadian Tour dates visit: http://www.westerncenturies.com/tour/