08 July 2016

MUDLOW - Letter To Louise ep

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Mudlow's new ep Letter To Louise
 continues their exploration of swampy, over the ocean, but regionless dark lit blues.

The second of what is to be a trilogy of eps, to be combined with bonus tracks into an album, Mudlow break no new ground here, and that's good (though the recording by bassist Paul Pascoe is even better than ever) rather they stick to their minacious, foggy wet port street, rock/ blues / jazz/ soundtrack thing they do so well.

From the threat of storm gorgeous bleary and near-sighted cover photograph by Casey Weber (shot at the same spot as the last ep, Minnesota Snow, released in 2015) to the swamped-out dark noir Brit themes of lost and broken brick hard men and clinker-sharp women, the scene: a dark paneled honky-tonk...broken glass...nicotine fingers...and good, good whisky.  There's a deeper sensuousness to these new recordings, the performances not just great, but now impressive.
Lyrically detailed, Tobias' singing has become more...refined...agile, yet still with a timbre like a well-dressed old man with a mouth full of cigar. His guitar skills have grown dramatically since the band discontinued using a sax player, his playing even more jazz-tinged than previous, in the way that Nick Cave or Jeffrey Lee Pierce could be jazz-tinged, his writing never stronger. Always a literature guy, Tobias tells earthy short stories, rooted in trouble, populated by characters, and those characters have never been never more alive in their troubles than on Letter To Louise.

Here's the run-down:

Track one is Letter To Louise, a reminder of all that Mudlow is about. Mid-tempo groovy, menacingly sexy bass groove, electric guitar picked with danger, south-east Tejas lounge drums...the whole thing would not sound out of place in a Tarrantino film. It is lyrically, I'm told, a re-investigation or re-working of a track called Horse Nails that Mudlow's singer/ guitarist/songwriter Tobias, did with guitarist Jon Wood several years ago. But where Horse Nails is folky, plucked, and insistent, yet imbued with the usual blue Mudlow desperate menace,  Letter To Louise is slower, groovier, creepier. Mudlow is on point as always as they drag Letter To Louise out the gate of Dr. John's backyard, and down to the old paved road into the gloaming. You know by seven-seconds into the song that nothing good can come of this story, somebody's gonna end up hurt.

Track two is Mad Mary Lou, a next-gen north Mississippi/Memphis mid-tempo Brighton blues boogie about yr local gal, and a party in the woods, and running out of roses at the cemetery. That's a scene that does not bode well, and it becomes clear by the first hook that all this scene lacks is a horn section, and a bonfire. #spodee #Stilettointhemud #Canofmace

Number three is Good Whiskey, and it's the band's most atmospherically lovely and epicly understated, which says a lot for a band that excels at atmosphere and understatement. Good Whiskey is a deftly finger-picked, sea-side town folk-blues that tastefully shows off just how fine a guitarist Tobias really is, as well as his lyrical depth, and ability to weave a short story within the constrictions of the song form. That he has a terrific (in the true sense of the word) band that can match him step for step through the moods he sets is a bonus. Mudlow make's each vignette striking, like a well-worn, hand decorated, old-fashioned Par Avion envelope, the address nearly invisible now, one word barely there, well-read and folded...Waits.

Engineer/producer,bassist Paul Pascoe' production keeps your ears leaning in, his fine, subtle taste in textures, and his sensitivity to moods supports the simple instrumentation, his bass work holding it down, but walking just right, with a lean.

Drummer Matt Latcham...rock solid and spot on, his playing tasteful yet primal, swinging like dancers in the dirt. Latcham's always played with a certain ease and loose change in the pocket, and that's what you want for a band like Mudlow. Sonic bonus points to producer Pascoe for the recording of Latcham's trap set, btw.

Mudlow play the soundtrack to the dark worries...
when you
 can't sleep at night!
trouble everyday!
The dread of a flat tire
on a country two-lane road
at ten o'clock at night,
where you can still be seen.
Somebody's at the back door,
there's a lady at the bar you used to know, and she's strapped,
...and a jukebox plays a Mudlow album.

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