Noel McKay – Blue Blue Blue
Discovered in 1993 by legendary singer-songwriter Guy Clark, Noel McKay is distilled in old-world country-western. Not a bad thing. But don’t expect Guy Clark’s alt-country gritty style, Lucinda Williams’ rusty truck tales, or Steve Earle’s socio-political rock-oriented country. That’s not to say McKay isn’t proficient. He is. The songs are more rhymes, simplistic, & based on typical, sometimes humorous country boy situations. And it’s a good listen.
12-songs explore loneliness – sleeping in a car, a dream of better days, lost relationships, bad decisions, traveling. It’s taken McKay (guitar-vocal) 10-years to get this to market. It’s worth the wait, but let’s hope it doesn’t take that long again.
The songs are credible and have a nice melodic build, interesting lyrics & always good playing. The title song “Blue Blue Blue” is distinctive. A beauty.
Some have creative lyrics; a few melodies are mindful of the past. “Real Cowboy,” is the polar opposite of “Blue Blue Blue” in quality. Older audiences will feel McKay run a finger along the rim of Roger Miller’s humor. Personally, I’m not a big fan of novelty songs but this was done well. The addition of the slide guitars with hokey-brass somehow makes the song a curiosity – in a good way.
Blue Blue Blue (Releases Oct 8–Independent) was produced by Eldridge Goins (drums-vocal) & Ben Sanders (strings/classical guitar/vocals). Recorded in Austin & Nashville. On a more serious side is the fiddle-rich song sung with expertise “Open All Night.” A keeper. Wonderful lyrics, & performance. Far better vocally than the opening song.
The title song “Blue Blue Blue,” is exceptional & has a good B&W video. A wonderfully constructed ballad sung with restrained passion, & sincerity.
Some authentic Tejano music on “Somebody, Someway, Somewhere,” & McKay sings parts in Spanish. The gratifying Josh Baca (accordion), & James Shelton (pedal steel) add luster. A Chuck Berry-Jerry Lee Lewis-type rocker with Kat Marx (piano) smokes on “Lurlene.” Delicious.
Musicians: Brennen Leigh (guitar-mandolin-vocal), Brett Resnick (pedal steel), Jay Weaver & Clyde Cervantes (bass), Dave Racine (drums), Dan Walton (piano-Wurlitzer), Gary Newcomb (lap-pedal steel), Hollin McKay, Melissa Carper, Seela Misra & Sunny Sweeney (harmony), Jenee Fleenor (fiddle-harmony), & Chris Scruggs (lap steel).
“When the Town Was Cool” has good moments in an Arlo Guthrie narration style but — not as humorous as Arlo, or as eerie as The Cat Mary’s “Her High & Lonesome Days.”
But McKay works within the confines of country music that’s nostalgic. His showcase has vitality for selective tastes. If you like Jim Reeves, Boxcar Willie, & country articulated singers borderline with “country & western” finesse – Noel has that voice. He’s not Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash.
“Flying & Falling,” was written by McKay with the late Guy Clark.
Photos courtesy: Defining Audacity. CD available @ https://noelmckay.com/home
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