Review: Tom Russell | Blood and Candle Smoke

Shout! Factory (2009)
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  September 22, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

0909_russell_main

This LA-born troubadour with a Dustbowl voice works voodoo on his 24th studio album, conjuring ghosts of the ’60s and ’70s along with apocalyptic visions as he relates tales of gun-toting madmen and dark rifts of the heart. If that sounds bleak, well, many of these songs are, though most of their lost-soul characters — including Russell himself, who appears in the autobiographical “East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam” and “Nina Simone” — are survivors.

Maybe the CD’s message is that there is no such thing as untroubled times or an untroubled mind. When Russell takes his frequently Tex-Mex flavored arrangements into the past, his tales are tangled in poverty and war. When he tells a story in the present, like the busted loser’s eulogy “The Most Dangerous Woman in America” and the environmental-disaster chronicle “American Rivers,” it comes to a bad end.

But ultimately, his dark visions are overpowered by his colorful writing and pure humanity.

TOM RUSSELL | Club Passim, 47 Palmer St, Cambridge | September 30 at 8 pm | $23-$25 | 617.492.7679 or www.clubpassim.org

Related: Julie Fowlis, Dance, Monkey: Baratunde Thurston, Dirge overkill, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Nina Simone,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY TED DROZDOWSKI
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   TOM HAMBRIDGE | BOOM!  |  August 23, 2011
    Roots rock is the new country and ex-Bostonian Tom Hambridge is the style's current MPV.
  •   COUNTRY STRONG | SOUNDTRACK  |  January 11, 2011
    This steaming pile of songs is emblematic of the state of mainstream country music — all artifice, no heart, calculated anthems written to formula and meant, like the film itself, to do no more than capitalize on the genre's current success and rob its undiscriminating fans.
  •   MARC RIBOT | SILENT MOVIES  |  November 02, 2010
    This exceptional, eccentric guitarist has traced a slow evolution from screamer to dreamer.
  •   IN MEMORIAM: SOLOMON BURKE, 1940 — 2010  |  October 11, 2010
  •   REVIEW: RONNIE EARL AND THE BROADCASTERS | SPREAD THE LOVE  |  September 07, 2010
    Boston-based blues-guitar virtuoso Ronnie Earl seems to be considering his past on his 23rd album as a leader.

 See all articles by: TED DROZDOWSKI