You might not be familiar with the work of Louis L’Amour, an American writer whose work centred around Western novels or ‘frontier stories’, but Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance are big fans, their past releases often drawing on his writings. Now they go the whole hog with a collection of six songs directly inspired by the 2003 anthology, The Collected Short Stories of Louis L’Amour: The Frontier Stories – Volume 1. Musically, you’ll hear a definite influence of Marty Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads at work, especially on the opener ‘Bound For El Paso’ based on The Gift Of Cochise, the story of a young wife, along in her cabin with two kids, repelling an attack by the Apache chief that also served as the basis for the film Hondo. There’s a Robbins’ Texicana feel too on the quick waltzing prison break and desert survival tale ‘The Ballad Of Four Prisoners’ (The Desperate Men) as the fugitives are gradually whittled down and ‘Beyond The Ridge’, where, based on From The Listening Hills, concerns brothers wrongly accused of horse theft by a jealous neighbour, hunted down as outlaws, with the last of them, dying of his wounds, writing a letter recounting their tragic history to his unborn son
‘Fool Me Once’ (inspired by revenge tale The Man From The Bitter Sands), on the other hand, has more of an Everlys’ note to the harmonies while, based on Dutchman’s Flat, ‘The Killing Type’ is a slower, sparser dobro blues evocative of the darker shadows of Johnny Cash but with a narrative that puts a wry spin on the title. It ends with a number drawn from Trap Of Gold, a story about a miner abandoning caution and becoming more reckless when he’s blinded by riches that balances love of wealth with love of family, ‘Prospector’s Blues’, again echoing the Evs, but in their bluesier, handclapping rhythm shades and with some fierce slide work towards the end.
They say they hope the EP will inspire others to search out L’Amour’s work and add they’re best listened to by the fireside with a nip of whiskey. I’ll saddle up for that.
Artists’ website: www.jamestownrevival.com
‘Bound For El Paso’ – official video: