Nashville Sessions The Duets Vol. 1
(Dave Stewart Entertainment)
One of the best Tony Joe White albums is the one featuring duets with female vocalists. Here music maestro Stewart puts together the various duets to be found on his Blackbird Studio Sessions trilogy of albums, which I have – to form a compilation of the best tracks in this format. There probably isn’t a musical style that Dave hasn’t worked in. I think his instinctive feel for dynamics when presented with or composing makes him a natural interpreter / originator of roots music. His blues, soul and country outings tend to breathe and charm. His poppier work meantime with electronic beats finds him mastering tones and timbres to work almost against the machine and that is an art in itself. I like playing his Here Comes The Rain on a twelve-string because electronica stripped away, there is a really neat modern folk-soul song, there for the taking.
Drowning In The Blues finds Alison Krauss aboard. It’s from The Ringmaster General set. A tad weepy in pace, this one. But the male and female voices combine to give a richness set against the sad-sack fiddle. An easy melody carries the words. George and Tammy would have cooked this one!
All Messed Up features Martina McBride and sighs in on plaintive pedal steel and steady piano, reeking of Willie Nelson in format. McBride sounds sad and sexy on this song of regret. Stewart matches her vocal with a good performance. The soft Hammond in the background is pretty close to what Mac of The Faces played when touring with Dylan. It is a lovely heartbreaker tune and the sepia strings are just right.
Just Another Fall has Diane Birch, a singer with an interesting history and a contemporary take on soul-gospel styles. An electric slide brings this in, set over a fast heartbeat pulse with a tinge of The Who c.Who’s Next. The wild electric guitar sweeps in and out of the number. Which reeks of Dylan, especially on the chord sequence. The well-recorded wah guitar sounds vicious and as though it is about to curve off into Gimme Shelter. God Only Knows You Now has Jessie Baylin and an alluring swaying rhythm, her voice reflective and full of character. Dave comes in an octave below as the strings flow against the pedal steel exhalations.
Bulletproof Vest pairs Stewart with Colbie Caillat over a gentle sway and an intriguing lyric on conquering hesitation. Dave sings this really well, sounds himself and every word clear in the mix. Around 1:45 Caillat lets her soul loose with a beautifully judged performance. An ache of a song. Cheaper Than Free stars Stevie Nicks over a backdrop of tremelo’d guitar. They sing the opening verse together and the voices don’t blend as much as stand alongside each other. The pacing of the number somehow reminds me of vintage Cat Stevens. The words are plain and simple and the pedal steel coos in the back of the mix. A series of questions immediately answered, the composition lets Nicks lean back and emote softly over the pretty tune.
Picnic For Two gets Joss Stone to the mike and it’s an easy-going sunshine day pop tune, almost breathed out. Even in low gear Stone’s voice just gets you.
By contrast, One Way Ticket To The Moon includes The Secret Sisters and a lonesome accordion on what is a subtle tango beat, with the female chorale airily floating over the slightly rickety tempo. Dave’s phrasing is – believe it or not – uncannily similar to Leonard Cohen’s. Quite charming in its own way ! Nashville Snow is a gentle pulse of a composition and Dave is singing here with Karen Elson. At 00.45 Elson joins in, with a complementary approach. Imagine a trailer park Frank and Nancy Sinatra ! The acoustic guitar solo is a joy.
Every Single Night brings Martina McBride back and over a pumping beat and electric piano Stewart sings in a conspiratorial style and the song itself recalls Boz Scaggs. McBride rides high and clear of the grubby ensemble backdrop. As an arrangement it works pretty well. A very catchy song, it must be said and fine bass runs underpin the changes. You And I Laura Michelle Kelly jumps straight into Stewart’s deep vocal. This is his L Cohen-phrasing moment on the Lucky Numbers album. The female vocal is clear and pleading. There is something Continental about the melody.
Much closer to Leonard Cohen or Willie Nelson than Eurythmics, this album shows Stewart moving through roots music styles with aplomb and in the best of company.
Dave Stewart’s ‘Nashville Sessions – The Duets Vol.1’ is available to download now and is released on CD on Friday 8th September 2017 on Dave Stewart Entertainment.
You can read our review of Dave Stewart at The Hospital Club, London, United Kingdom from December 2014 here: http://bit.ly/1ZT2Iss
For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2eORrGp
In addition, Dave Stewart will be performing two UK shows in September 2017 at the following venues: