A Review of the CD
by Guy Clark

by Guy Clark

copyright 1997

Sugar Hill Records
P.O. Box 55300
Durham, NC 27717

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 12/98
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Providing a panorama that immerses the listener in Texas life and lore, Guy Clark's latest release is an easy-to-digest performance with a smoothness that fits like a comfortable pair of jeans.

Recorded live at Nashville's Douglas Corner Cafe, Clark offers an assured presentation of his sometimes gritty, sometimes homey music, with a good mixture of differing rhythms.

Opening with "L.A. Freeway" and closing with "Desperados Waiting For A Train," Clark reminisces on events from his youth, culinary expertise, a gunfighter's sad demise and loves lost but never forgotten, among other subjects.

"L.A. Freeway," probably best known for Jerry Jeff Walker's rendition, is a quirky (what else could you call it when he mentions vanilla wafers and includes the line "Oh, Susanna don't you cry..."?) take on escaping the concrete canyons of Los Angeles and going elsewhere to live a more down-to-earth life. Anyone hearing this song's chorus will immediately be hooked into repeating it over and over:

"Like A Coat From The Cold" is about as sweet as Clark is going to get. Describing a life lived on his terms alone, he tempers his fierceness somewhat with the chorus: The spoken/sung "The Last Gunfighter Ballad" is an image-laden tale of a gunfighter who oxymoronishly lives too long and finally suffers a death of modernity. Capturing the real life of a gunfighter's days, Clark sings: "Homegrown Tomatoes" is a jaunty paean to that venerable fruit, detailing the multitude of ways to enjoy the pleasures of the genus Lycopersicon. "Texas Cookin'" is another love song to the many genres filling the plate that make up Lone Star State comestibility. As Clark proudly declares Texas cooking will "stop your belly and back bone from bumpin", he ends the song with this warning: "She Ain't Goin' Nowhere" is an exquisitely written but powerfully compact 12 lines of verse, capturing a woman's escape from a suffocating relationship. The three-line chorus, repeated thricely, goes: The images provided in "The South Coast of Texas" transports the listener directly to that area and offers an authentic feel for life on the gulf. As Clark summarizes: "Let Him Roll" is another spoken/sung plaintive composition about the life and death of a wino. Seeking salvation in the arms of a Dallas whore, his proposal of marriage is rejected. Seventeen forsaken years later he finally passes on, with a "crumblin' picture of a girl in a door and an address in Dallas" as his prized and just about only possessions. With subject matter that could easily stumble into the banal, Clark pulls this one off with appealing poignancy.

As a tribute to the most important man in his childhood, Clark lionizes the wildcatter who was his mother's boyfriend in the classic "Desperados Waiting For A Train." His moment of hesitation before continuing into the song's chorus provides greater impact to the overall potency of the tune.

These are the offerings of a reflective craftsman at work. His Texas twang and song styles fit more into the Americana genre than either folk or country but his musical art will appeal to anyone appreciative of picturesque images, vivid characters and solid musicianship.

Clark is backed by his son, Travis, on bass and harmony vocals, Verlon Thompson on guitar and harmony vocals, Suzi Ragsdale on accordian and harmony vocals, Kenny Malone on drums and percussion, and Darrell Scott on guitar, mandolin, dobro, Weissenborn, upright dulcimer and harmony vocals.

Track List:

All songs written by Guy Clark except for "A Little Bit of Both" co-written with Verlon Thompson and "Out In The Parking Lot", co-written with Darrell Scott.

Copyright 1998, Kevin McCarthy and The Peterborough Folk Music Society. This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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