- 15 May 19
Rather than revealing any hitherto unsuspected industrial-techno leanings, the first album of unreleased material to emerge since his death in 2013 finds J.J. Cale doing what he did best – the deceptively relaxed Tulsa sound, a unique mix of country and blues that he helped birth. The likes of Mark Knopfler certainly owe him a lot, and he pretty much gave Eric Clapton his solo career, but let’s not speak ill of the dead.
The album is made up of various home recordings and outtakes, all original Cale songs apart from 1977’s ‘My Baby Blues’, written by Cale’s wife Christine, who put this collection together, in the year they met. Unsurprisingly for a songwriter as gifted as Cale was – remember this is a man who had the same song, ‘I Got The Same Old Blues’, covered by artists as seemingly disparate as Captain Beefheart and Bryan Ferry – the quality never dips.
Opener ‘Lights Down Low’ finds Cale “just doing my thing” as he lays out his stall with a gentle swinging groove driven by his unmistakably tasteful guitar playing, ‘Stay Around’ has him suggesting to his missus that they “slip away into the night and make love, it feels just right”, and ‘Don’t Call Me Joe’ asks his mates to leave him and his woman alone, to “pretend he ain’t here no more”, which sadly he isn’t. Yes, it’s the same sound that stretches back to 1971’s debut Naturally but it wasn’t broken so no effort has been made to fix it.
Beautifully played – check the piano and brushed drums on ‘Tell Daddy’ - and sung and comfortable as an old shoe, it’s unlikely to win over any new converts – although it should – but fans of the man will be laughing.