LET IT TWANG! CD Review
Paul Burch & the WPA Ballclub -- Blue Notes (Merge). The move to Merge Records brings with it change; not in the lineup, for the Ballclub remains intact from Wire to Wire.
But Burch's sound pallet has widened considerably -- Paul has added early rock n roll and soul with his usual deftness and understatement. The disc begins with a melancholy meditation "Willpower"
("I've been rendered unkind by that baby of mine, and she don't want no more of me.") His voice is a cool, soulful twang with pedal steel and vibraphone nudging him along. The mood revs up considerably
with "Long Distance Call" which is a crackling rockabilly romp with an engine on the verge of blowing ("well she's a rattling, sure, but all we're stopping for is pills, smokes, and the state patrol").
This record's riches are many, but no moment more glorious than the call-and-response of "How Do I Know" when guest-vocalist (and Nashville's first poet laureate) Tom House shouts "Cook your collard greens with ham / Save the drippings in a can."
No review would be complete without a comment about the wonderful story-song "Carter Cain" -- plain-faced and clear-eyed, despised everywhere he goes ("there's a pickup truck circling the block and they're calling out your name"). Burch's eye for detail and turn-of-phrase is at its height. This record is a marvelous
accomplishment from one of Nashville's best. -TRS
1. Willpower (4:28)
2. Forever Yours (3:06)
3. Isolda (5:17)
4. Long Distance Call (2:30)
5. Tonight, Tonight (4:34)
6. How Do I Know? (4:50)
7. Hard Women Blues (3:29)
8. Hitting Bottom (4:34)
9. Oh My Darlin' (3:11)
10. Carter Cain (4:16)
11. Foolish Things the Lonely Do (4:21)
12. Head Over Heels (3:19)
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