Steve Spurgin,
Tumbleweed Town
(Tricropolis, 2002)

Steve Spurgin's solo album Tumbleweed Town is country music and singing at its best -- a bit of blues, a bit of slow love, a bit of angst and an enlivening dose of humour make this a real pleasure to listen to. With experience as drummer for the likes of Freddy Fender, Mason Williams and the country/bluegrass band Sundance, Spurgin has had a wealth of talent to bring to his own work, and his skills on acoustic guitar and vocals are certainly up to the task. His accompanying musicians provide a varied and extremely well-balanced sound, which contributes significantly to the overall seamless feel of the album.

He opens with the catchy and upbeat "Going Back to San Antone," which has a rhythm as tight as the rhyme in the lyrics. Then there's the title track, a narrative song in a traditional tempo. He tells some fascinating tales about dangerous "Bullet Bob" and "Grandma's Remedy," yes siree! Each song on the album has its own characters, whether they are people or places, and it is always a pleasure to encounter original and nonrepetitive lyrics. I was seriously hooked on "Mexico Love" and also "Carmen," where he intermingles Spanish phrasing with the English lyrics (which he also does in the gentle "San Jacinto Farewell").

"If L.A. Was a Lady" is a great tribute to a place, evocative, with a slow, lilting sway to it. The "Talking Cigarette Blues" is a wry and somewhat tongue-in-cheek look at Spurgin's own habit of smoking the noxious weed: smoker or nonsmoker, you have to laugh at his turn of phrase and self-mockery! A clever little song, which I thoroughly enjoyed despite the fact I normally hate talk-overs. He winds to a close with "They Don't Play George Jones on MTV."

This CD fast becomes addictive, and for anyone who likes even the occasional sound of country music, this has to be required listening. For those who think anything with a dobro in it has to be avoided, think again; this is easy to listen to, uplifting, interesting and extremely good music.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 22 November 2003

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