Over his impressive 28-year career to date, there seems to be no branch of roots music (or musical roots for that matter) that Brooks Williams hasn't explored. We could easily be forgiven for losing count, but to my reckoning he's released fifteen albums, a DVD, two EPs, a duo collaborations with Jim Henry, and two albums and an EP with Boo Hewerdine under the name of State Of The Union; so unless I've missed anything, My Turn Now has to be his 16th album collection.
It brings together virtually all of the various branches under one convenient roof; indeed, it's billed as an album of contrasts. It was recorded both in England (where he now lives) and his native America, in the company of a magnificently tight rhythm team comprising Richard Gates (electric bass) and Chris Pepper (drums), the latter also being responsible for the album's production. Brooks has also managed to rope in Sally Barker for some backing vocal assistance on three tracks, and Keith Warmington drops in for harmonica duty on a further three numbers. The title song, one of seven originals on the album, is not as you might expect autobiographical, but instead a portrait of a motorcycle racer fed up with losing, set to a high-octane slide-fuelled blues.
Other triumphs include the wry, distinctly Ry-Cooder-inspired funk-boogie Nine Days' Wonder, the episode-in-the-life tale of Evel Knievel (Year Began) and the lazy swampy resignation of Joker's Wild; Darkness is a revisit of the pounding voodoo-gospel number from the first State Of The Union release, and Rosalyn chronicles a doomed romance. The disc's four covers include Kris Kristofferson's laconic reflection Nobody Wins (a gorgeous duet with Sally), a full-speed-ahead take on Mose Allison's Your Mind Is On Vacation, and, to finish the disc off, a fresh (and spikily heavy-duty) new arrangement of the blues staple Sitting On Top Of The World.
Throughout, it goes without saying that Brooks' own instrumental contributions are first-rate, wholly idiomatic and determinedly laid-back virtuosic - he's a true master of everything guitar, from acoustic to slide to electric to resonator, nylon-string to arch-top to cigar-box! Yeah, My Turn Now has probably gotta be Brooks' finest, tastiest collection to date - but I'll still be goin' back to the other 15 albums to remind myself of his consummate artistry.
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