James Talley,
(Cimarron, 2004)

James Talley's songs have been recorded by a list that reads like a "who's who" of great Americana music. He has had his share of hits with his own releases and now we get to hear a compilation of his magical musical offerings in a live setting over a couple of concerts in 2002.

"Bluesman" has a fantastic feel that will make you believe that you are there at a live concert with all the atmosphere conjured up by simple lyrics, laidback performance and professional backing.

Among the better-known tracks on offer we also get a few previously unreleased pieces. One of these is my favourite on the album. "My Cherokee Maiden" has all the ingredients for music magic; the beat, the picking and the melody allied to a sensitive simple lyric story are just right.

Get on the boots and check your shirt for "Tryin' Like the Devil" as you feel that you are cruising down the blacktop with the CD player blasting. He keeps us out in the wide-open spaces as "Sometimes I Think of Suzanne" draws us with its plaintive rendition into a lonely world of loss. Drawing on life yet again Talley tells us the story of "La Rosa Montana." Listen carefully and I dare you not to weep.

His love of the Native Americans is evident on tracks like "The Song for Chief Joseph" and "Somewhere on the Edge of the World." More recent American history is recalled on a previously unreleased track called "I Saw the Buildings." The tragedy of 9-11 is recalled but with a positive spin that people can recover from the worst happenings.

This is great album that gives us a variety of moods and insights while always entertaining. The insert gives us the lyrics as well an excellent short autobiography.

by Nicky Rossiter
29 October 2005

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