Al Scorch & the Country Soul Ensemble
Album: Tired Ghostly Town
Label: Hewhocorrupts Inc
Tracks: 10

I must confess that on first listen I had 'Tired Ghostly Town' by Al Scorch and the Country Soul Ensemble as an album you would by after a particularly high octane gig in a vain attempt to re-create the atmosphere the next day. I'm not too sure what was wrong with my ears then but the evidence points to judging on the opening two tracks only.

Those two, 'Board Up The Windows' and 'Chicago' are both 100 miles per hour punk/bluegrass numbers and 'Hard Times' has some pretty rapid banjo picking by Scorch but then you have tracks that slow down some, mix up a bit yet retain the edge and attitude of the quick stuff.

'The Hearse Driver' is suitably bleak, with keyboards and a clarinet it is the first notice that this is not a traditional traditional album. 'Miss Rosie', a song about a civil war deserter, is old school old time with fiddle to the fore.

It is the albums title (and closing track) that sets Scorch apart from mere good time fiddle bands. The music is in standard country waltz time, the story is of a man who gets repeatedly drawn back to the 'Tired Ghostly Town', again, standard enough but the lyrics, including: "the rust lying on the shoreline" and "a cancerously crippled giant waiting to die" speak evocatively of a place on it's last legs. There is a colliery brass band feel to the tail end of the song and, therefore, the album which contrasts so vividly with the opening track. You only really get that if you have it on repeat: something it's been on a lot over the past few days.

John 'The Jacket' Hawes