This EP is a collection of songs inspired by tales from the American West. While not entirely performed in a country manner the plaintive singer-songwriter approach is fluid. This is real Americana with no other genre trimmings. The first song is a pleasant story tune driven by harmonica. “Bound for El Paso,” performed by Jonathan Clay & Zach Chance are songs influenced by the stories of author Louis L’Amour. This one is based on L’Amour’s “The Gift of Cochise.”
Their singing & playing is pleasantly tight. Two voices merge as one & are reminiscent of the skill once performed by the magnificent duo Lowen & Navarro (“Cry”). While their music was instrumentally more intense each duo captures a solidly melodic expansive sound. Here, Jamestown Revival plays a little more subdued but should be. It’s about the intimacy, the plaintiveness, tradition.
“Fool Me Once,” based on the L’Amour story “The Man From Bitter Sands” is performed with just enough luster. Like campfire songs, not based heavily on country-tradition or folky passivity. These are seasoned & expertly performed.
Jamestown Revival – Fireside With Louis L’Amour (Thirty Tigers/Drops May 28) features “The Ballad of Four Prisoners,” which would be good enough for the late Marty Robbins (“El Paso,” “Big Iron”) who would’ve loved to have worked with Jonathan & Zach.
Basically, for some, these may register as hokum songs. But on closer inspection, with both ears open, they aren’t. They’re skillful tunes, carefully written, tight, & well-arranged. They take their showcase seriously. John Denver passed this way, even Bob Dylan – because these are areas of music that are — yes, historic.
Many people enjoy these types of stories, this type of playing. There is an American sensibility to it that is homespun. Instrumentality each tune is distinguished. The most accessible song for me “The Killing Type,” is superb. I hear the late Johnny Cash covering this had he heard it. Just like L’Amour’s tales each song is a short story with lyrical imagery. This isn’t a novelty collection. These songs have substance, performed with a slug of whiskey, not sarsaparilla. “Beyond the Ridge,” with its haunting harmonica, powerful male backup vocals is not sweet – it’s an impressive well-carved out song. Actually, all 6 are held together with ingenuity.
The final song “Prospector’s Blues,” is the most robust. This is like a splash of cold water in the face. In a nutshell, exhilarating. (I think Louis L’Amour himself would have been flattered & impressed by this effort).
The CD is available @ https://orcd.co/louis-lamour