As much as music has to look forward, embrace new inspirations and ideas, potential and points-of-view, it always pays to acknowledge what has gone before too. The past has much to teach us. So making music that is inspired by the sounds of the past, which is pitched at a contemporary audience but which also carries a sonic flag into the future feels like the perfect, timeless blend. The sound of nostalgia being turned into evolution. And this is exactly where we find Afton Wolfe with his latest track, Dirty Girl.
Ahead of his debut album, Kings For Sale, Dirty Girl is the perfect calling card. His Waitsian growl, sounding like he has downed a bottle of whiskey, stayed up for three days straight, been in a couple of fights and then been hung for a week in a smokehouse before hitting the studio, dominates the centreground of the song. But the real charm of the song is found when you tune your ear into what is going on around him.
Not only is the sound of the south set in motion by the resonant harmonica and eloquent bottleneck guitar playing of acclaimed Blue Mountain frontman and Mississippi bluesman Cary Hudson, but the song also opens with him waxing lyrical about why Mississippi is such fertile ground for the spirituality and the unexplained. Brass breezes by, piano skitters through and the rhythm section shuffles and stomps the track ever onwards towards its destination.
And its destination is none other than the heart of New Orleans, the song itself recalling an odyssey through the state, chasing good music, in great company and a quest through iconic venues in search of sonic holy grails. And as the journey progresses, the music twists and turns to reflect the passage of time, the geographic location and the sinking of alcohol.
A gorgeously ragged anthem hinting at a great album to come.