“This CD is 100% guitar free” boasts the sleeve of Cera Impala’s fourth album, Tumbleweed. This may be bad news if you’re banjophobic but you can’t win ‘em all. Cera is a much travelled multi-instrumentalist singer and songwriter who plays indie-rock with Dark Green Tree and sings old-time jazz with The Bevvy Sisters. Her core band, The New Prohibition, is double bass player Joey “Jello” Sanderson and her husband and co-producer Dirk Ronneburg who was known to play fiddle with Southern Tenant Folk Union.
Tumbleweed tries to pull all these strands together with thirteen of Cera’s original songs. It opens with the swing of ‘Fingernail Moon’ and I was really enjoying ‘Little Bird’ until I realised that I was listening to ‘Long Black Veil’. It may have a generic chord progression but it’s not exactly obscure. ‘Ponderosa’ is nicely bleak, courtesy of Alan Ross’ harmonica and Ronneburg’s keening fiddle but, for me, far too much of the album lacks bite. ‘Caroline’ has that radio voice effect at the beginning but drops it quickly and it’s only ‘Magic’ that employs all the tricks and sounds really old-timey. Call me a traditionalist if you will but it’s the best song on the album.
The final track, ‘Home’, features some fairly pointless turntable scratching by Bríeuc Bestel. He doesn’t do enough to be radical and the song drifts along nicely and would do so without him. I’m sure I should like Tumbleweed a lot more than I do and that Cera’s fans will take me to task over it but, as I said, you can’t win ‘em all.
Artist’s website: www.ceraimpala.com
‘Home’ – official video: