So I've just heard another of the great records released this year; I mean one of the really great records, because 2013 is really shaping up. There have been so many records I've fallen for this year and the latest is Small Town Talk by Shannon McNally.
It's a tribute album to the songs - and spirit - of Bobby Charles, one of music's great songwriters. He wrote See You Later, Alligator (made famous by Bill Haley), he also created hits for Fats Domino and other key rock'n'rollers, bluesmen and soul singers. Charles was a singer too, not just a songwriter - his own records are wonderful and Small Town Talk is the most recent reminder of the great songs Bobby Charles left this world.
He died in 2010 - he had been working on this record with McNally.
You see, Small Town Talk first started taking shape in 2007. It might have been very interesting to hear it then. But these things take time, they make their own time. But I certainly would have found it interesting to hear then - because Shannon McNally was on my radar.
I loved her album Geronimo (from 2005). It arrived in the letterbox one day, I knew nothing about her. But she could sing! I found that out as soon as I hit play and I loved her version of Americana - the CD arriving right in what I guess you could call an alt-country boom. The following year she released North American Ghost Music, a live album. It was on high rotate for a while in my house. I loved that record too. I couldn't pick a favourite between Geronimo and the live album - they were a great pair to alternate. At a pinch I'd go with North American Ghost Music, but then Geronimo gets the sentimental-favourite nod; it was the introduction.
And then I just plain forgot about McNally. Probably an awful thing to say, but just the way it is with music. She was no longer on my radar. With so much music in the world I forgot.
I dug out North American Ghost Music last year and had a wee revival. And then I filed it. (And forgot about her again - I had meant to find out what she'd done since then.)
So now here we are with Small Town Talk, a tribute album to Bobby Charles. But the album also features Dr John - he stepped in to take over as producer, as guiding light.
Derek Trucks cameos too.
These songs are timeless and these versions of them are wonderful. There's the lazy, loping feel of country and blues, there's New Orleans' second-line on display; beautiful balladry and the album worked for me on two levels: a reintroduction/reminder of the brilliant songs of Bobby Charles and a reminder of/reintroduction to the wonderful singing of Shannon McNally.
She has a decent back catalogue for anyone interested in this record and new to her.
And Dr John has another potential album of the year on this hands - or has had a part in it, a huge (crucial) part, after the superb Locked Down worked as a reminder of/reintroduction to his unique musical world.
So I just wanted to mention this. It's my new favourite.
Have you heard it? Or will you check it out? Any fans of Shannon McNally? Any other albums of hers you could recommend for me? I'm newly eager to head back to her discography. And any Bobby Charles fans or Dr John fans will definitely want to hear this. I'm sure of that. So check out the title track and the album opener, Street People.
So does Small Town Talk sound like an album for you?
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