Musicians have always taken inspiration from wherever they travel or visit, perhaps it’s the life on the road that gives flight to those elusive words and chords that rattle around in the head of your travelling musician but behind many a classic song is a tale about a town, city or street. Travelling to a new country, especially one with its own musical identity, can quickly obliterate that spell of writer’s block and bring about a new episode of song writing. Garrick Rawlings had the kind of upbringing that meant he saw a large chunk of his native America.
Born in Kansas, raised in Michigan, lived in Chicago and Southern California and now residing in Arizona means he’s picked up the influences of these places and having spent years being road manager to Ramblin’ Jack Elliott has seen first hand the music business and now, having finally put his pen to paper has come up with an album embracing the American music styles of blues, Americana, country and the Mexican music of LA.
In part it’s Tom Petty and Neil Young but with a stripped back feel of the listener having found themselves at a private recording party where, if you remain quiet, you can go unnoticed while the album is being played out before your eyes.
There are subtle backing vocals, particularly on tracks ‘No Tengo Palabras’ and ‘Lights of Marfa’ and a lovely story of a long-forgotten cello on ‘Lost In Time’ that lift the album from standard four-guys-armed-with-guitars fare and the storyteller of Rawlings shines through on ‘Lincoln Penny’.
At times you can almost hear the sand crunching underfoot as the sun goes down over the Nevada desert leaving the stars to twinkle between the cactus.
‘Whiskey, Cryin’, Pain…’ sounds like something from the repertoire of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and allowing the listener to hear variation within the 11 songs.
Sure, this album won’t appeal to everyone, but then again what album has ever done that, but if you’re looking for some grown up Americana to listen to in the evenings, this might be right up your street.