TONY ROSE – Medicine Tunes (Cannery Row Records. CRR 1824/ CRR 1825)

Medicine TunesRecorded in just one session in the spring of 2017, Medicine Tunes is the debut solo album by Tony Rose. Moving away from his more frequented folk-rock sound, this album is about as country as country gets, musically and lyrically, and often dealing with subject matter such as loss and despair. However, the theme of hope occasionally surfaces at times, too and in a sense, much of this album’s purpose was born from the cathartic qualities of the songwriting process.

The musically refreshing, if at times lyrically biting, ‘When I Walk, Will You Follow?’ kicks off proceedings, followed by ‘Broken Heart And Sad, Sad Memories’. For an album which pretty much ticks every box of the country bracket, this song is uber-country; touching on themes of separation, tears, whiskey that “won’t wash this pain away”, a heart that “don’t get no comfort”, as well as a countrified false ending for good measure.

The light at the end of the tunnel, as it were, begins to make its presence known in the second half of the recording; in songs like ‘South Of The Border’ (a tribute to friendship and being helped through hard times) and ‘Last Days Of Summer’ a song of rebuilding, looking forward and shaking yesterday’s troubles.

Towards the end however, the darker clouds begin to creep in once more, particularly in Rose’s ode to adjustment and isolation, ‘Getting It Together’ and in the (arguably) darkest song of the collection, ‘What Do I Ask The Moon?’ concluding Rose’s debut solo offering.

Although the official portion of the album ends on this note, included in the release is a bonus disc; Roll High And Roll Good, a 14 track compendium of Tony’s songs covered by artists from Europe and North America; offering another , and at times, very interesting take on the works of this thoughtful and honest songwriter.

Christopher James Sheridan

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