- 16 Oct 19
The Pipes Are Calling
Following, as promised, swiftly on the heels of the very fine From Muscle Shoals, In Memphis forms the second half of a sort of double album allowing Vance to both clear out the backlog of songs built up over years of touring, and pay tribute to the glorious music of the American South. He’s just the fella for the job too, blessed as the County Down man is with a serious set of lungs.
Opener ‘I Was Born’ leaves the listener in little doubt. It’s a glorious soul holler of a song, buoyed up by Hammond and piano, with Vance’s voice growing stronger and more affecting the longer the tune goes on, all the way to that glorious key change near the end. ‘Cradled In Arms’, ‘Have Me Maria’ and ‘I Won’t Let You Fall’ are all cut from a similar cloth, one that envelopes the listener with a welcome warmth, and ‘Only The Artist’ - gentle pop that paints love as a work of art - deserves to be heard on every radio.
So what if ‘Malibu Jane’ and especially ‘Alice From Dallas’ aren’t exactly the greatest songs ever written? Vance has the chops to elevate them, although the fare badly in comparison with ‘The Strong Hand’, a slice of the deep southern stuff about Vance’s Ma, his brothers, and his lover, and about how those close to him give him the strength to dig a bit deeper. God help you if you can’t find something to identify with in that one.
‘Wind Blows Chloe’ is the kind of fiddle and mandolin hoedown The Band used to knock out when they were goofing off, ‘The Christ And The Crook’ finds our man reasoning with his missus that he can still have faith without kneeling before the altar, recalling that great Tom Waits aphorism, “you say that it’s gospel, but I know that it’s only church”, and ‘We’re Already In Heaven’ is the perfect finish, an acoustic ballad declaring love to be the ultimate blessing, mentioning Rabelais, Ecclesiastes and Sirius along the way. It’s another lovely record – with real soul - from the Bangor beguiler.