Chamomile and Whiskey – Red Clay Heart
This, the 3rd LP by Virginia’s Marie Borgman (fiddle/vocals) & Koda Kerl (guitar/vocals) as Chamomile and Whiskey, is a deep rowdy country roots rock duo that delves into some social commentary, nostalgia, & loss, with the bite of Southern inflected music.
Recorded in Nashville with producer Ken Comer Chamomile and Whiskey’s 9-cut Red Clay Heart (drops Oct 30 – Independent) features Drew Kimball (guitar), Stuart Gunter (drums), & Marsh Mahon (bass). The LP to veteran listeners of this genre of music, especially “Way Back,” & “Dead Bird,” will strike a chord as similar to The Beat Farmers, the Del-Lords with Eric Ambel & Scott Kempner who basically spear-headed this type of music in the late 70s-early 80s along with Dave Alvin & the Blasters.
Borgman & Kerl do have an invigorated unit & polish, buff & shine an old-style & refreshen it. They add more traditional tints to keep the journey rooted in more traditional styles (“Triumph”) with fiddle & guitar. The musicians are all proficient & add personality through their playing. At times the group touches upon the time-honored musical miles traveled by Goose Creek Symphony & Charlie Gearheart & Poco years ago & still smoking.
What’s equally attractive is the group’s ability to perform poignant ballads (“Alright” “Another Wake”). Koda’s vocal is perfectly suited. While not as distinctive (yet) as say a John Prine, Buddy Miller, Richard Thompson or Townes van Zandt, he does indeed carry the tunes quite well with his good tone (“Best of the Worst”) & charming sincere country-rock vocals. Quite likable.
Marie’s voice at times comes through strong & parallel the way Emmylou Harris does on other people’s records. Marie’s feminine rootsy vocals lend a shot of B-12 in some songs that could be mediocre by any other standard yet are enriched by Marie. She should be used more often & as effectively as the duo Golden-Carrillo on their original (“Fire in Newtown”) that was a wonderfully arranged song for male & female vocals.
Overall, the LP showcases a variety of excellent songs, well-written & played as the driving rocker (“Hard Time Honey”). There isn’t anything to discover here that will be new. But it’s good music sustained by musicians who enjoy what they do & it comes through their playing.
What more can be asked for? The 33-minute engaging CD will be available on Amazon.