Rosco Levee & The Southern Slide - "Final
Approach To Home"
CD / MP3 - 25 Feb 2013 - Red Train
It seemed amazing to find by chance Rosco
Levee & The
Southern Slide's marvellous videos on
a journey of discovery that continued upon finding out that
this exceptional five piece band, whose music is described
on their website as 'Country
Southern rock'n'voodoo Mariachi', were based in Thanet and
not some far flung Funksville, USA in a deep and sun baked
Further revelations were in store during repeated
listenings to their stupendous debut CD.
These accomplished musicians led by Rosco's singing of his finely crafted
songs, and skilfully committed
slide guitar work, have made a shimmering collection of twelve varied
and engrossing songs in the
Americana genre. Americana is a broad church and this band has cherry picked
a feast that has echoes of the 'Cosmic Cowboy' scene of the 1970's, and also
lashings of good ol' Southern boogie.
It's clear and confident opening statement of intent, the
soul stirring and organically earthy
headlong charge of Goldrush which has received radio plays
in America and the
UK, and acclaim from
many notable quarters, while also being nominated for 'Best
Original Song' category of The British
Blues Awards 2013, declares this to be an album well worth
owning and delving into.
With the saloon doors kicked open wide Rosco & The Southern
Slide are ready to rumble, with Seven Seas Is My Name and
you find yourself listening with ever increasing interest to
Rosco's succinct and heartfelt
lyrics as his cinematic songs are able to nail in a sharp line
or couplet both personal and universal feelings.
This deep vein continues to be mined using several different
musical forms as the band fires on all cylinders delivering
these tales with uplifting soulful energy. A factor that unites
them is the blending of the frontier mythos with a personal
Odyssey that repeatedly emphasises the importance of the solid
foundation of the singer's home.
With various exuberant nods of acknowlegement to those pioneers
of this music who blazed the trail in former times including
The Band, The Allman Brothers and Delaney Bramlettt as well
as more recent kin such as The Black Crowes, a singular and
original voice emerges here. Intimations of gospel, blues & soul
weave in and out of these fine songs, that in addition to their
driving and rhythmic beat are sprinkled liberally with intriguing
and virtuoso instrumentation. The mandolin playing of Andy
Hayes is beautiful,
and Lee Wilson's piano and keys shines out at many points,
not least on the train song Never Stops which also
has lovely harmony singing that put me in mind of Crosby, Stills,
Nash & Young.
With the rhythm section of Simon Gardiner, bass, and Dave
Tettmar , drums, they produce an exiting sound with sometimes
abrupt changes of pace mid song that serves the dynamics of
these tracks well, and the listener is drawn in without any
'flashiness' being required. 97 To 3, with Rosco's
terrific slide guitar to the fore is a real toe tapper presented
with with great panache and style.
All of the tracks have their
individual merits, and are sequenced in such an intuitively
satisfying way that they each seem to contribute to a steadily
unfolding panoramic picture. Two stand out tracks for me
are I Got Soul which has a methodical stately pace,
and is a gospel soaked song of intense emotional honesty and
resonance. Hey Lady more than lives up to the 'Mariachi'
part in the earlier description of the band's music, as it
conjures up imagery of a wide screen Western filmed as so many
were in the New Mexico desert with it's sheer rock stacks and
giant cacti, while Rosco sings an affecting yearning ballad
against a back drop of plaintive Mariachi trumpets and guitar
flourishes, with the refrain "And build
your dreams up high, reach for the skies"... indeed so!
From the vigorous exemplary guitar work on Old Bessie to
the elegiac Southern Gothic outlaw tale of
Ol' Shanky Shake that references a murder, a ghost,
and being on the run, hiding out in the 'Badlands', Rosco and
his band demonstrate their sure touch with this music even
as they renew it with freshness and vibrancy.
With the grand
anthemic finale heralded by majestic keyboard swirls When
You've Gone To Ramble all the previous themes are
gathered together into one final surge, with it's climatic
build and accompanying
triumphant horns, the track ascends to those big open skies
and is suddenly gone ... ”Who were those
masked men ?”... catch 'em live when you can (they perform
a gripping and outstanding show!) and if you
invest in this impressively produced and recorded audio slice
of Southern authenticity you'll reap a rich reward.
Submitted by Nigel Warton
26 June 2013