Steve Conn’s new album Flesh and Bone (Not Really Records) was produced by Conn and Joe V. McMahan (Kevin Gordon, Webb Wilder), and recorded at McMahan’s studio in East Nashville. The album features Sonny Landreth on two tracks, Conn, Bryan Owings (Tony Joe White, John Prine) on drums, Dave Francis (Maura O’Connell, Luke Combs) on bass, Roy Agee (Prince) on trombone, and Chris Carmichael (Miranda Lambert, Buddy Guy) on strings.
The album is Louisiana-style piano rich with a welcome smattering of horns. The first track, “Famous,” opens with the New Orleans shuffle, piano syncopation and glorious vocals: “I’d like to get the glory now so I can get my own accolades, but it’s looking more and more and like I’m going to miss my own parade,” and then: “I’ll be famous when I’m dead.”
“Doing the Best That I can” opens with “I wish I had listened to my second thoughts,” and don’t we all? With muted accordion this song will give you pause. “You Don’t Know“ is a funky number with some cheeky commentary on landlords, and bats in the belfry. But when it transitions into “crackers for breakfast, crackers for lunch…” the song takes a cold hard twist and we recognize between the punch lines there’s poverty. And struggle.
“Annaleigh” is an unrequited love song of youthful longing and “Let Me Cry” is the lamenting tale of a bad day. “Around and Around” starts off with an accordion zydeco bang and a lyrical commentary on multiple religions – and multiple religious icons including Billy Graham and Ned Flanders – circling around and around the notion of God.
“Good Times Are Coming” adds some funky wah-wah to the already layered grooves, while it tells the mysterious tale of a child who is bounced from home to home. “Without a Trace” emphasizes Conns deeper lyrical ablilities in a more literary sense.
This album showcases Conn’s Mississippi Delta roots, his dextrous style as a pianist and songwriter, and most of all, his heart on the sleeve of the frock of Louisiana.