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Daniel Meade & The Flying MulesDaniel Meade & The Flying Mules
Album: Let Me Off At The Bottom
Label: At The Helm
Tracks: 11

Daniel Meade's 3rd album release, but his first on exciting new Brighton-Based independent label At The Helm Records. With his merry band of Flying Mules (featuring Lloyd Reid on electric guitar, Mark Ferrie on double bass and Thomas Sutherland on drums), "Let Me Off At The Bottom" was for the most part recorded live at the legendary CaVa studios in Glasgow and boy does it show - and I mean that in a good way! This is one of those albums that jumps straight out at you, both in terms of atmosphere and just good ole fashioned songs that you can wiggle around to either internally or externally.

The experience that the boys have garnered playing hundreds of shows over the last couple of years is laid bare here for all to see. Confident playing that is bang on the money every time. Songs that have been road-tested well. 11 tracks that cross musical borders effortlessly, yet essentially remain firmly in Meade's own identity. That's a pretty neat trick if you can pull it off - and he does.

Honky Tonk barrelhouse piano is one of the key elements of the sound. But this ain't Lieutenant Pi-geon! It gives the album an almost 'bar room' feel which in turn, along with the bright production, gives "Let Me Off At The Bottom" it's distinctive live aura. "There's A Headstone Where Her Heart Used To Be" and "The Bottle Called For Me" are straight up rocking and rolling drinking tunes. Broken glasses shattered on the piano keys, blood on the finger tips, alcohol fuelled punters picking their way through bewildered musicians, and voices straining to be heard. The sound of the demon drink. The sound of a bunch of great musicians having a ball and letting us all know that that's what we should be doing too.

What Daniel Meade does best though is to paint musical pictures. The songs, which touch on subjects such as depression, prescriptions and limerence amongst others, are mini glimpses into the odd-ball mind of a master. "Leave Me To Bleed" takes the opposite view of say "Lock Up Your Daughter". The sadness pervades a song of heartbreaking depression, and where typically there is always hope, Meade skilfully leaves the listener with no salvation.

"Poison Dart" sees Meade and his Flying Mules veering boldly into Jerry Lee Lewis early 70's Country territory, and somehow making it work. Take out Meade, pop in Jerry lee and Mercury would be suing for something! That then clearly showcases what this album is all about - a myriad of musical mayhem, from the deep well of traditional American roots music. And as good as this album is, I suspect that the Daniel Meade live experience is even better.

The accompanying press release proclaims that this is music with heart, soul and a real pop sensibility. It's certainly music FROM the heart and that's one of the inherent strengths of an album that bleeds honesty, charm, vibrancy and a sheer love of the underbelly of an often skewed society. Crack open several bottles, put on "Let Me Off At The Bottom", and turn up to 11. Then just smile.

Ken Brown