MISERY - J. Tex (Heptown Records)
The authenticity dripping from this album will have you checking your CD player to see if it has a 78 rpm setting. More importantly, it has an undeniable spirit at its core that can't be faked. J. Tex is a Dane who recorded these 12 songs of dustbowl Great Depression country blues, mostly solo and in a Swedish studio. A case of music truly crossing all borders.
Tex's mission was simple. He'd had a lot of fun touring his band, The Volunteers, with whom he'd recorded two albums for Heptown Records, but wanted to pare things back. He headed to Malmo, rot a placed called The House On The Hill, roped in the occasional collaborator and three days later he had an album.
Tex calls his music "true country" and who are we to argue? In most respects, acoustic country blues provided the white man's entry point into what became rock and roll. Tex has tapped the motherlode and plays this stuff like he's lived it. Man's got character.
Mostly originals with the three traditional ("Washbah Cannonball", "Black & Blues Blues", "Omie Wise") and Woody Guthrie song ("Ain't Got No Home") thrown in, this is the sort of record that's subtly engaging. It's something you play when your ears are fried or the sun's peeking over the horizon and volume is a consideration.
The bright note among some mournful tunes is "What a Bummer" which manages to name-check some contemporary cultural reference points. At times "Misery" is so low-key that you think you slipped into a time warp and landed in a dusty Kansas speakeasy where most of the job-less patrons have passed out on moonshine and only an old guy with a guitar remains standing.
Flashes of banjo, violin, harmonica and upright bass fill out the sparse sound. It's warmly recorded and sounds fabulous.
"Misery" is not your usual I-94 Bar fare but that doesn't stop it being an absorbing and intriuging listen.- The Barman
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