Damon Fowler – Sounds Of Home | Album Review

damonfowlercd2Damon Fowler – Sounds Of Home

Blind Pig Records

www.damonfowler.com

11 tracks; 51 minutes

After the success of Southern Hospitality, his collaboration with fellow Florida-based musicians JP Soars and Victor Wainwright, Damon Fowler has stuck with SOHO producer Tab Benoit for his third Blind Pig release. The album follows the style of its predecessors though it is perhaps a little gentler than 2011’s “Devil Got His Way”. Damon is joined by his regular rhythm section, Chuck Riley on bass and James McKnight on drums, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux shares vocals on the title track and producer Benoit adds some acoustic guitar, pedal steel and background vocals on several tracks. Most of the material is original, Damon collaborating on seven tracks with either Ed Wright or Tab Benoit. There are three covers, the traditional “I Shall Not Be Moved” and songs from Johnny Winter and Elvis Costello. The album was recorded at Tab’s studio in Louisiana.

Damon is well known for his lap steel playing and there is plenty of ominous sounding slide on opening cut “Thought I Had It All”, a cautionary tale of over-confidence: “Thought I had it all, but all had me”. The title track follows with an insistent guitar riff beneath Damon’s vocal before Big Chief joins in with an almost spoken vocal. Damon’s lighter voice harmonises well on this one; he has an effective voice which expresses emotions well, as is demonstrated on “Trouble”, a gentle piece about a doomed relationship: “I’m an addict, you’re my habit, I can’t help myself. Trouble light is shining, I can’t find my way”. Some light, fleet-fingered picking follows in Damon’s solo.

“Spark” is a catchy piece of rock and roll, Damon’s only solo composition here, and it’s a really enjoyable cut with Tab’s backing vocals adding to the sound. There is a touch of country in Damon’s playing here and that influence is also there on the next track, the wonderful title of “Old Fools, Barstools, And Me”. This one is a slower song with some shimmering guitar but it is the combination of Damon’s wistful vocal and the title chorus that gives it that country feel.

Two songs written by Damon and Tab follow. “Where I Belong” is very country in feel with Damon on jaunty lap steel and Tab on acoustic as Damon tells us that his grandma’s favourite song was “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and that is where he belongs, out in the country with friends and music. In contrast “Grit My Teeth” is a foot-tapper with some more of that insistent riffing that Damon does so well.

Elvis Costello’s “Alison” is a strong song that has been covered many times (I have an excellent version by deep soul singer Charles Walker in my collection). Damon takes the song at a relaxed pace and Tab’s backing vocals are very effective in the chorus but it does feel as if Damon is having to really stretch to make some of the notes in the chorus.

The cover of Johnny Winter’s “TV Mama” is well done with lots of exciting slide playing before we get the last original, “Do It For The Love” where Damon’s twangy guitar and Tab’s pedal steel give the plaintive ballad a real country feel. That feel is maintained through the closing run through “I Shall Not Be Moved” with some more fast country picking and drummer James using brushes effectively.

This album is more a roots than a blues album and follows on from Damon’s previous solo releases with a mixture of styles and playing. Anyone who enjoyed those previous releases will not be disappointed by the new album; those new to Damon’s music should find things to enjoy across this varied and well played set of material.

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