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drawn in pencil. At the outset, Connor and Hallie sing: ‘Oh, what great potential; so much can fit in this frame of pencil, once you commit.’ By the couple’s twilight years, that refrain becomes: ‘But the empty frame, each days it changes, as their life slide show rearranges. Oh, what great memories; so much they fit in this frame of pencil, without touching it.’ Frankly, Pencil Frame is an amazingly accomplished and mature song for a twenty-something to have created. ‘Freedom is flying for those who dare,’ is

the summation that underpins the almost six-minute long, The Bird; a tension-filled tale wherein a trapeze artist achieves precisely that ideal. New England writers, and Mainers in particular, have displayed a penchant for natural world-word portraits, and Red-Winged Blackbird fulfils that tradition. The ensuing Western Wind is a road song; a genre normally possessing an ‘Oh, woe is me’ slant. Connor’s composition is a joyous travelogue wherein, with Fall approaching, he traverses a continent to witness New England’s ‘big red.’ Waltz- paced, toward the close of Hold Your Breath, palpable tension pervades the lyric, and WHERE OCEAN MEETS LAND closes with Mountain Song. Inspired by French novelist, essayist, poet, and short story writer, Rene Daumal’s poem, Garvey’s lyric explores the ‘because it’s there’ human compulsion to ascend mountains. Arthur Wood

Highway Ghosts BEYOND ALL HELP Dedham Street Music HHHH Quality Americana rock mix Boston style Some really enduring and original

songwriting, distinctive vocals and very good musicianship—what more could you want? This is Highway Ghosts’ second album; AFTER ALL OF THIS TIME came out a couple of years ago and caught a lot of US East Coast attention without a big breakout. The first album was good but this one is better, packed with memorable tunes that can enjoyably be replayed over and over again. All twelve tracks are written by members of the band with guitarist and lead vocalist, David DeLuca heading up the honours board. DeLuca’s Alone is the lead off track—a haunting

72 Maverick

tale of a lovelorn guy made to look a bit of a fool by a girl he clearly doted on. The second track, jointly penned by DeLuca and lead guitarist, Dan Cody, continues on a similar theme, Losing Harmony is however more about a relationship gone permanently bad. DeLuca can write some fairly dark songs:

Can’t Put Me Away is the insistent tale of innocence in regard to the murder of a guy who had been messing around with the singer’s girl and was subsequently found in a mine shaft, and Done Before is a plea from the hospital bedside for the survival of a partner near to death. My favourite tracks are the bluesy Laurie, and the more upbeat Nothing’s Changed and Please Don’t Run Away. The latter is self-explanatory; Laurie is another joint DeLuca/Cody effort and tells of a girl treated very badly by her, now departed, chosen partner and the singer wanting to help her through her strife; Nothing’s Changed is meeting up again after both have been through now broken relationships. Undeniably Eagles sounding, not a lot wrong with that, and probably a bit dated, although there is a school of thought, which says that this music never dates, and I prefer to go with that. One thing is for sure and that is that this band and the music they write and play is undeniably good. Paul Collins

Joanne Shaw Taylor ALMOST ALWAYS NEVER RUF Records RUF1181 HHHH This Lady sings the blues and plays them better than most Young Joanne Shaw Taylor is not only

treated as an equal in what might be the most snobbish of musical genres but genuinely revered by many much older guitarists and her third album could well be the one that attracts the ears of big league promoters across the Atlantic Ocean. Joanne’s last album, DIAMONDS IN THE DIRT was generally perceived to be career defining but ALMOST ALWAYS NEVER actually starts where that album left off. With the aid of some excellent production work from Mike McCarthy, Joanne Shaw Taylor throws down a gauntlet to the rest of the burgeoning British blues-rock scene. Soul Station, which opens the album, has all the hallmarks of a timeless classic,

and Beautifully Broken which follows is a breathy heartbreaker with a Rhodes organ complementing the nicely choppy guitar breaks, before Joanne slides in her own trademark fluid solos. Whilst Joanne was originally billed as a teenage guitar prodigy, it’s her maturing vocals on ALMOST ALWAYS NEVER that have impressed me the most, although her guitar playing is still astounding! On this album she sounds as if she could have been the offspring of an illicit union between Rory Gallagher and Maggie Bell as her voice has a lived-in richness to it that is perfect for the blues, but it’s also clear and smooth enough to cross over onto the commercial radio stations. Several songs are definitely strong

enough for radio play with Jealousy being absolutely perfect for a late night when you’ve had one too many alcoholic beverages as it will induce even the toughest of masculine souls to shed a tear. Tied And Bound isn’t as risqué as the title might suggest but of a tale of a shattered romance, and Joanne appears to make her guitar growl during the choruses, which is really impressive. ALMOST ALWAYS NEVER has been a pleasant surprise as I didn’t expect this daughter of the Black Country to be able to match the heady heights she achieved only two years ago with DIAMOND IN THE DIRT but, after repeated listening in and out of the car, I think she’s actually surpassed that award winning album. Alan Harrison

Joel Rafael AMERICA COME HOME Inside Recordings HHHHI Old and brand spanking new, original or cover, here is a magnificent song bag In the final verse of the already familiar

Joel Rafael/Woody Guthrie co-write Dance Around My Atom Fire, this California based musician sings with conviction: ‘Warfare is not the settlement; bloodshed is not the element; shake hands and work together; dance around the atom fire.’ 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Guthrie’s birth and the song previously graced Rafael’s Oklahoman troubadour tribute WOODYBOYE (2005). The latter collaboration opens

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