There is a trend in Americana to plunder 20th century styles, particularly from the twenties through to the fifties, either by disinterring old records or writing new songs in the style. Paper Moon Shiners, from Austin, Texas, do just that. Elena Antinelli is the lead vocalist and Frank Meyer writes most of the original songs, sings, plays all the instruments as well as the invisible kazoo – not a great impression, though.
Antinelli has an amazing voice – just listen to what she does with the word “who” on the opening track, ‘Who’s That Knockin’?’, and the gravel she pours on Robert Johnson’s ‘Come On In My Kitchen’. She can also impersonate a theremin and that’s really clever. Meyer is a versatile guitarist and ukulele master and by keeping it simple they evoke times long past. I prefer them on the old material simply because some of Meyer’s songs are too clever and knowing. ‘Devil Up There’ has a great sound but the use of a word like “cerebellum” and clever rhymes break the illusion. ‘Same Thang’ and ‘Git’ do sound rather more authentic.
My favourite track is ‘That’s My Weakness’, originally a hit for Helen Kane in 1928. It’s a simple but clever idea and they deliver it so well, even if they have modernised the lyrics a little. ‘Carolina Moon’ sounds like a deliberate pastiche of the country crooner style of Gene Austin who first recorded it in 1924. The fact that Antinelli sings it with a perfectly straight face just adds to the fun.
Currently the album is available only from the band directly but it is being promoted in Europe so it might appear soon.
Artists’ website: http://papermoonshiners.com/
‘Carolina Moon’ live:
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