Rod Clements, |
(Market Square, 2000)
The dozen tracks on Stamping Ground come from the pen of Rod Clements, occasionally aided and abetted by other musicians, and although he appears to be a product of the United Kingdom he has an uncanny Americana hue.
The title track sets a scene of quiet and confident writing and performance. "Whisky Highway" is a cautionary tale told in a more upbeat tone than usual. He continues with a clever story song called "Blue Interior," using the car with this decor to tell a nice if poignant tale.
I would have liked a bit more information on some of the tracks to enhance appreciation. Is the tale, "Hattie McDaniel at the Oscars 1939" a true story or a clever fiction?
My favourite track on offer is another story-song called "Charity Main." Here you can almost feel "the wind whip you raw" as you forage for waste coal. It reminded me of tales in my own port town when people scoured the quayside for coal dropped in transport. This track deserves a wider audience dealing as it does with a once worldwide phenomenon of the "little people."
"Roads East of Northumberland" continues this theme of history and is wonderful to hear. It has a folkier sound than most of the tracks, which lean more towards country. He returns to the west on "Cowboy in the Rain," but it's in the imagination rather than reality. This recalls the lives lived on the silver screen before venturing out into cold dark rainy nights.
"One More Night With You" brings us back to his folk side before he heads on to that old country road with "Old Blue Goose."
This is a great album of new songs. It may be jumping between two stools -- folk and country -- but it does it well. I would love to hear him concentrate on the folk side on a new album.
by Nicky Rossiter