Kevin Gordon,
O Come Look at the Burning
(Crowville, 2005)

O Come Look at the Burning fires up with the outstanding track "Watching the Sun Go Down," which affords a real storming, bluesy opener to this fine album. The opening track recalls Chris Rea's recent explorations of his own blues roots and possesses the rawness of Bob Dylan, circa Highway 61 Revisted. Nashville-based Kevin Gordon chose to record this album pretty much live, in a home-based studio, which gives the entire album an effortless spontaneity.

"Greenwood Girls" finds Gordon recalling more innocent times, with the lyrics drawing you in to his idyllic summer portrait; "Barefoot dreams on grass so green." Just as summers must turn into autumn, Gordon's idyll must also draw to a close; "Greenwood girls grow up too soon, leave the sun to chase the moon." Drama and sentimentality are heightened throughout this intense performance with a beautiful guitar melody that blends in neatly between the verses.

Gordon's character-based songs hold a particular charm. "Flowers" considers the all-too-familiar sight of bouquets left by the side of a road to mark the spot where a loved one has been lost to a tragic accident. The story unfolds courtesy of two characters; a preacher man killed by a drunk driver and a family man distracted by the worries of losing his job, who "went a little left of centre coming over the hill." Gordon goes on to poignantly describe the wives left behind to grieve their losses. The line "every rose petal's got a tale to tell" makes you feel positively guilty for the times you've driven past these roadside shrines without a thought for the pain and suffering that some loved one is suffering.

"Calhoun" is a sultry, country waltz that finds Gordon lamenting a former lover, seemingly in an alcohol-induced haze, "drunk on her memory and the way things can't be no more." A lonesome, stirring slide guitar seemingly weeps to the lyrics alongside beautifully understated piano accompaniment.

Throughout O Come Look at the Burning, the tracks that really rock have an infectiousness that will likely have you tapping your foot and singing along enthusiastically, whilst the slower tracks just slip gently into your consciousness as you drift away with the soothing melodies and spellbinding arrangements. It is hard to find fault with this markedly relaxed collection.

by Mike Wilson
16 September 2006

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