Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Shannon McNally Small Town Talk 2013

This gem was recorded back in 2007, when Bobbie Charles was still alive, and only released now in 2013. McNally and Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) produce, and the good Dr. is everywhere.

The slinky, cooking funk of Street People leads off, followed by the luscious country-swing honky-tonk of Can't Pin A Color. Charles could write a fine tune, and while few of his tunes were hits, they deserve their revered status. This one is right up there.

The beautiful String Of Hearts follows, and McNally's vocal, with Vince Gill's harmonies, make the song indispensable, and outright beautiful. Cowboys and Indians (Charles' empathetic blues ode to native Americans) and Homemade Songs (a slow country blues ballad) round out side one, and unless this thing falls apart on side two, we may have a classic.

Side two breaks out with Long Face, a Dr. John classic duet, and this girl can express herself.  Shannon McNally sings in a wonderfully laid back alto that reminds the listener of Ronstadt or Raitt, but she's every bit the singer either of them is, and since she's a tad younger, she can outsing them right now. Small Town Talk follows, and it's one of Charles' best, written with Rick Danko of The Band, and presented here in a pretty straightforward arrangement that features Dr. John's piano and guest harmonica.

I Don't Want To Know is another beautiful country ballad of the heartache kind, and Charles could certainly add his name to the greats of the genre. Nice piano from the Dr. Vince Gill adds his enormous (and oft over-looked) guitar talent to But I Do, and McNally provides a casual, and yet perfect, vocal. She makes it sound so easy you almost miss how exceptional she is. I Must Be In A Good Place Now finishes off the record, with McNally singingc her heart out on another precious Charles lyric, with a full pop ballad arrangement, and Dr. John's wonderful keys.

The core band is Dr. John on piano and B-3, Hermann Ernest III on drums, David Barard on bass, and John Fohl on guitar. There are small string and horn sections used to fill out the arrangements, and Derek Trucks makes an appearance. It's available on very clean vinyl from Sacred Sumac Music in Nashville, distributed by Select-O Hits. Get ready to spin.

It might not blow you away the first time, but with repeated listenings, it will creep into your psyche, and you will fall prey to it's charms.

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