Dustin Arbuckle And The Damnations – My Getaway
Self-Release – 2020
11 tracks; 48 minutes
When Moreland & Arbuckle broke up in 2017 harmonica player and vocalist Dustin Arbuckle immediately set about establishing a new band. M&A drummer Kendall Newby stayed on board and the two are joined by guitarist Brandon Hudspeth (Levee Town, Hudspeth & Taylor) and bassist Dr Mark Foley; Caleb Drummond is on bass instead of Mark on three tracks. The band is based in Wichita, Kansas, where the album was recorded. Dustin had a hand in seven songs, writing in combination with other band members and there are four songs from outside the band: friend of the band Ryan Taylor provides three songs and the title cut comes from the late Lee McBee. The band plays a wide range of styles, from Hill Country blues to country-tinged Americana, resulting in a nicely varied album.
“Say My Name” is the catchy refrain of the opening track with hypnotic drums and harp behind some striking guitar work. “Across The Desert” combines upbeat boogie and John Lee Hooker references as Dustin sings about fighting through difficulties, including crossing paths with the Devil, before “Daniel Fought A Lion”, the first of the Ryan Taylor songs. The delicate guitar opening is followed by haunting harp on this slower tune in which biblical references abound. The band adopts a more upbeat approach on the more conventional blues theme of being betrayed in a relationship “You Got To Go” before the interesting lyrics of “Dealer’s Lament” in which we are invited to feel sorry for the drug dealer whose clients don’t seem to want to form a deeper relationship: “you all want my candy, not my company; you come and go but you never want to stay”. Some good playing here, from Brandon’s slide work to Dustin’s strong vocals, but it is hard to empathize with the protagonist!
“Half A Piece” opens with strong harp work over a gritty slide riff, the title referencing ‘losing (part of) your mind’ when things go south in a relationship. In contrast “Darlin’ Dear” is almost country with gentle acoustic guitar, overdubbed weeping slide and campfire harmonica before the title track “My Getaway”, a grinder from the pen of harp player Lee McBee that gives Dustin plenty of space to show off his harp chops. The final three songs show the wide range of styles that the band can cover: “When A Song Comes Along” is a country tune with a little French chanson rhythm; tough harp and ringing guitar sit over the top of the low-down blues of “Friday Evenin’” and the album closes with a surprise as the band shows it knows its way round a swing/jazz instrumental, appropriately entitled “Swingling”. Dustin’s low register harp is accompanied by some relaxed playing with brushed drums, upright bass and the sort of guitar that you might hear from Little Charlie Baty, Duke Robillard or even Barney Kessel to close a varied and enjoyable album.