NAME - Name (label)

MIDNIGHT SHOW - Peter Ross (Beast Records)
Let's face it. If you're touted as "the Australian Johnny Cash" you're probably not going to live up to the label. Those are big cowboy boots to fill. Melbourne-based Peter Ross doesn't sound anything like The Man In Black but his brand of country 'n' blues is worth a listen.

Ross spent half of last decade as guitarist for Dan Brodie and the Broken Arrows before striking out on his own. These days he spends more time in Europe than Hillary Clinton. This is his second long player. "Midnight Show" is a mostly acoustic album on French label Beast Records that marries Ross' melodramatic vocal to guitar with occasional harmonica, flute and piano.

Someone's tagged this "spaghetti western ballads" and the term would be appropriate if Ennio Morricone had written "Macarthur Park" for Richard Harris and he'd passed it on to ol' Pete. At least that's the chord that "Maybe There Is Love", in particular, struck around here.

Ross' first solo album, "Six String Suicide" probably would have been a more logical starting point for me. The little I've heard almost rocked. The sound here is stark without much embellishment. The mood picks up with "Looking In Your Eyes" where up-tempo guitar locks in with harmonica. The song's a keeper.

The melody in "Josephine" hovers dangerously close to a song whose name evades me. The string arrangement is nice. Ditto the guitar playing on "Notjhin' At All".

Ultimately, "Midnight Show" is a grower rather than that stunning looking nd forthright girl who walks right up in a nightclub, taps you on the shoulder and tells you to come home. With my luck it'd be The Barmaid. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But back to the music and "Midnight Show" doesn't rattle my cage because it all sounds a bit safe. If it sounds like your bag, give it a chance. - The Barman


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