Bob Collum & The Welfare MothersBob Collum & The Welfare Mothers
Album: Little Rock
Label: Harbour Songs
Tracks: 10

From the opening chords on "Little Rock" you're dragged into Bob Collum 's world.

It's a world based on stories and thoughts of life in small town America. And that's no bad thing as Essex based ex-pat Collum with his band, The Welfare Mothers, have come up with an album of hook laden country tinged roots music, lovingly laced with Allan Kelly's pedal steel.

Love and hate are themes that dominate "Little Rock" ,the welcome follow up to 2007's "Set The Stupid Free".

"Johnny Held Em Down" stands out, dark and sinister, "Please take down that flag, it's a hateful dirty rag….. Don't pretend it's not a stand, you wave it every chance you can…. You're still you fathers son, you fight the wars you think you should have won and blame somebody else when it goes wrong". It was written about the Confederate Flag and how it's used a weapon of keeping people aware of their place. It could just as well apply to any flag following bunch of intolerants anywhere.

"Locust Grove" tells the true story of the murder of three girls at a scout camp outside of Tulsa in 1977. It's a haunting tale and the music matches perfectly, like a river running slow and deep.

There's lightness too though it's not all bleak. "Good Thing We're In Love" is a classic calling and answer, seems like you can't live with them and you can't live without them, type song whilst "Wasted Wonderland" is a romantic road crash.

Relationships and memories are also examined in "Empty Hands Of Love", like all great songwriters such as Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello etc, Collum catches you , you see things through his eyes and that's a wonderful talent to have.

Ian Cripps