Tony Kamel – Back Down Home
The charm I found on first listen to Tony Kamel’s (guitar/mandolin) new album was his ability to decorate his opening song “Amen,” with a snazzy melody & performance (in the 60s the title was a classic song by The Impressions but that’s a different song).
However, Tony successfully captured a soulful groove with his song as well, added a retro female chorale, an easy-going musical approach, well-woven guitar, acoustic guitar, pedal steel & piano with 60s flavor. His vocal is smoky soul & while it could ignite a saloon audience Kamel would also find a comfortable place with any country-blues roots band in a Little Feat/Rusted Root/Old 97’s/Whiskeytown style. It all comes down to being genuine. Kamel is.
Tony is the frontman/songwriter for the Grammy-nominated string band Wood & Wire. The Houston-born singer unveils 10-new solo songs (some co-writes and one traditional cover) that he produced with singer-songwriter Bruce Robison for Robison’s Next Waltz label.
Back Down Home (Drops Sept 24) has a warmth that could only come from an all-analog studio that Robison provided in his Lockhart, Texas studio. The music is an unassuming set. It possesses accessible laid-back story songs. “Johnny Law,” is an interesting old-fashioned-styled song with female backing that adds a rural flavor. “Who Am I Kidding?” is a jewel. Kamel has a polished Ralph Stanley intonation mixed with a tad Chip Taylor tone. Noah Jeffries’ fiddle is outstanding. It makes it quite beautiful. Noah also plays mandolin on this LP.
There’s no showboating, bombastic arrangements, or extraordinary solos. Just pristine performances by all the musicians & a mix of tunes that soothes & satisfies. Some are simple country-folk, old-time ballads, bluegrass, slices of Cajun, jazz, funk & roots music. All are covered admirably by these fine players.
“Heat,” continues in a Ralph Stanley vocalese but Tony adds a potent rock voice balanced on the waves of a rollicking piano & brass with a pipeline filled with fiddles & a solid beat. This is an excellent song.
“The Surfer,” is like a good John Prine tale & channels the ghost of Levon Helm on certain songs. Must be the Texas accent. The song that best jams out musically & dynamically is the traditional “Reuben’s Tale,” a hot impressive showcase. But, by this point in the CD, I’m not surprised.
I needed a magnifying glass to read the musician’s names but here goes (along with those mentioned previously): Geoff Queen (pedal steel/lap steel/mandolin/slide guitar), Josh Blue (drums), Scott Davis (electric guitar/accordion/ mandolin), Trevor Nealon (B3/clavinet/piano), Emily Gimble (piano/B3), Keith Langford (drums), Dan Bechdolt (saxophones), Steve Butts (trumpet) with background singers: Kelley Mickwee, Alice Spencer, Kevin Russell, Dominic Fisher & Bruce Robison.
B&W Photo courtesy: Josh Abel.
The 36-minute CD is available @ http://www.tonykamelmusic.com/