Based in Austin, Britt’s seventh album, All Over The Map, is succinctly summed up by its title, the genres contained within wandering between jazz, old time country, folk and Americana. It’s country saloon sensibility is set with the dusty voiced, piano waltzer opening track, ‘The Bar Stool’ where “there’s a sad song playing on the juke box” and “a drunken old fool” sitting all alone “thinking about where it all went wrong”. From honky tonk to jazz piano bar, the mood shifts to ‘Heart’s Desire’ with its early hours Hoagey Carmichael smoke and from there to the punchier border country chug of Dreaming and back to slower, more intimate confessional colours on the warmly sung, wistful and reflective, fingerpicked acoustic and piano ‘Photographs’.
The album’s two covers sit side by side, the first being a simple strummed take on the Guy Clark/Rodney Crowell collaboration ‘Stuff That Works’. Clark was an old friend of Britt, as was the late Jerry Jeff Walker and by way of a personal tribute here is included the harmonica shaded, semi-spoken ‘Friends And Memories’, the last song Walker wrote before his passing, recalling a cherished guitar found in a secondhand shop and gifted “to a friend one night, who’d lost a hell of a lot/I said go write a song to sing as you travel down life’s road/Cause music as you’re traveling, always lightens up your load”.
Returning to his own material, ‘When The Day Is Done’ is another reflective folksy ballad, here in the persona of a widower sitting by the evening fire with his dog, musing about getting older and the loss that comes with the passing years (“After a while I’ll be climbing the stairs/To the bed I don’t share anymore/I’ll kiss her picture tell her I love her and I miss her/And say goodnight to Ben over on the floor”), Loss and ageing also haunt piano tinkled album closer ‘One More Dance’ (“I know our time is done/All our trips around the sun/I know we did all we could do/There’s no regrets from me to you/You were always there for me/When I needed you to be/You always kept me safe and sound/You knew just what to do/But I need one more time/Just One more time/Just One more dance/With you”).
Dance and romance also link arms for the old school sound of ‘You Might Not Say’ in which some smoothtalking guy invites a woman to dance while her man’s off getting in the beer, because “You can learn a lot from a two step/About someone that you just met/If I was bettin’ girl I’d bet/It won’t take long to tell/We could do a couple slow twirls/And by the time we finish glidin’ around the floor you might not say, you love him anymore”. It’s framed by first ‘That Ain’t Right’, a Western Swing styled shuffle that has him discovering he’s been cheated on (“You said I was so fine/You’d love me all the time/Then I catch you runnin’ ‘round/With another love you found”) and he’s not about to be there when things turn sour (“I see your new love standing there/Real young with long blond hair/He’s got looks and he’s got class/I don’t think it’s gonna last/Don’t you try to come back to me/When he puts you on the street”). And second, ‘Tularosa’, a playful story song about a woman who, having gone through here husbands, buys “a truckload of weed from a dealer/Down in Old Juarez” and, when stopped at the border, tells the federales she’s got her granddad’s body in the back who she’s taking home to bury in Tularosa Cemetery, gets back to the farm, sells the stash and winds up in an boasting about it in the Austin bar “she bought with a casket full of cash”.
All over the map it might be, but it’s well worth planning a route through it.
Artist’s website: www.reddawgmusic.com/music
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