NELSON WRIGHT Orphans & Relics / PEACHES AND CRIME Do Bad Things
Fetching Grace Music / Peaches and Crime Records
Two albums allocated for review, with nothing, at first sight, in common, except that they are a stretch to review in a Blues magazine, not being too closely attached to the Blues canon. Yet after a considered listen, the two albums have enough in common to be considered together and, indeed, in a Blues magazine such as Blues Matters. Nelson Wright’s album, Orphans & Relics, is largely a Country music-sounding album. Yes, the songs do have that element of storytelling that typifies many Blues records, but the mainly slow pace and light tone and acoustic pleasantries would best please a Country listenership.
By contrast, Peaches and Crime have come up with an exuberant, extravagant, downright unusual album. Interspersed with dramatic, tongue in cheek dialogue, the songs themselves are, as the band claims, “Old time Jazzy Blues”. Very old Jazzy Blues, in fact, with Angie Diamond sounding a lot like Marlene Dietrich and it is to the old Cabaret songs that this album certainly alludes at times. Just take a listen to the track Herschel Ganev with its accordion, for example, and imagine a bier keller and be-stockinged ladies and a frazzled, dissipated, all-night audience. Songs like The Very Happy Polka are pure humour and bouncy, entertaining music. Make no mistake, interspersed with the bizarreness and jokes there is some good music and Bringing Hell To Brooklyn and It’s A Good Thing with its hot percussion are but two examples.
What makes Nelson Wright’s album relevant to the music of Peaches and Crime? Well, for one thing Nelson breaks the Country mould when the album comes to Ten O’clock Blues, which lives up to its name, as a proper Blues tune. For another, he takes an even greater departure on closing track The Last Call Blues, which has much of the drama from Peaches and Crime’s songbook and some delightful trumpet and other instrumentation.
These albums are both well worth listening to, and while Peaches and Crime’s album is eyebrow-raising throughout, Nelson Wright’s album gets better and better and ends with a bang.