Sid Selvidge,
A Little Bit of Rain
(Archer, 2003)

Sid Selvidge released his first album more than three decades ago. His years of experience are obvious in his voice and guitar, both of which demonstrate musical maturity. This maturity adds credence to the predominantly somber tone of A Little Bit of Rain. Many of the songs were written by others, but Selvidge somehow conveys his own life through their words.

For instance, the CD jacket has a brief commentary by Selvidge and producer James Luther Dickinson. In the description for the morose "Long Black Veil," Selvidge notes that 40 years ago he "did a lot of songs about the hard parts of life ... before [he] knew anything about the hard parts of life." Well, when you hear that voice, you won't doubt that the man behind that voice has experienced nearly everything life has to offer.

The title track is an odd way to start out the album as it is a song about endings. It's a great rendition that sets a somber tone for most of the album. It's immediately followed by "Hobo Bill," in which the cowboy yodels can't cover for the sad topic of a dead hobo.

Just as depression is about to sink in, Selvidge uplifts the ears and does an excellent job on acoustic guitar in "Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good." In the CD jacket, he notes that this song is more complex than his typical fare. I'm glad he ventured out on this one -- it's a success. Sam Shoup provides interesting dips in the background with a really nice upright bass.

There's a solemn-bordering-on-sad tone present in most songs with an occasional break. The down-and-a-little-bit-up pattern is continued throughout the album. The so-so "Every Natural Thing" unquestionably has energy, but is the only song on the album with a weak vocal performance by Selvidge. On the other hand, the pop-blues "Real Thing" opens up the gates with a dynamic beat, excellent accompaniment and gregariously gruff vocals by Selvidge.

If you enjoy work by an artist in his prime, then you need to turn your ears towards Sid Selvidge. Usually the combination of "somber" and "maturity" would result in a lackluster snoozefest, but not in this case. A Little Bit of Rain is a serious yet enjoyable demonstration of experience, talent and storytelling.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 29 May 2004

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