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Jarrod DickensonJarrod Dickenson
Album: Ready The Horses
Label: Decca
Tracks: 12

Having secured a major label deal off the back of his last album, The Lonesome Traveler, the Texan singer-songwriter delivers something of a change of style for the follow-up, bringing a far greater soul feel to the underlying Americana. Recorded live to 2" tape, it opens with 'Faint of Heart', which, sonorously sung with organ accompaniment, has a decided African-American spirituals feel to the intro, opening up into a clanking gospel swing. Then horns that call to mind the Memphis soul greats introduce the slow swaying 'Take It From Me Now', Dickenson channelling the balladry of Otis Redding.

The fingerpicked 'Your Heart Belongs To Me', a duet with wife Claire, is more familiar in its folk-country tones and the burr in Dickenson's voice, a stylistic note that returns for the fiddle-accompanied, waltzing 'A Cowboy' with its Willie Nelson echoes, but, save for the intimacy of the sparse, hushed closing track, 'I Won't Quit', the overall approach is more muscular. 'Way Past' with its handclap and organ chugs a Simonesque groove, 'Gold Rush' prowls the Waitsian junkyards with some snarly guitar and greasy sax while 'In The Meantime' is back in late night Memphis country soul territory and the five-minute 'California' rides pedal steel for a slow waltz chorus of regret-stained memories. Tall in the saddle with a firm grip on the reins, he's ready to ride to the wider acclaim he deserves.

Mike Davies