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Eric 'Red Mouth' Gebhardt - Blues $1.49 lb (Independent)
Reviewed by Ricardo, Oct 2005

Charlotte Wyatt

Identifiably adhering to bluesey, country, folky, forms but happy to accept (actively embrace) a loose interpretation of the detail, this is not an album for purists of any stripe but a joyfully chaotic reworking of the common sources.

Eric's from Florence, Alabama and describes what he does as 'southern based music'. His set 'usually consists of house rockin' delta blues with a number of broken-hearted, drunken country love ballads and even some deep south gospel tunes from time to time...'

The overall sound is enjoyably raggedy. Think Lou Reed and Raindogs era Waits fighting in a border bar with 80's country-rockers Green on Red. Meanwhile tex-mex indie darlings Calexico are arguing with Terry Allen about which ZZ Top tracks to play on the jukebox. Only bluesier, and with more banjo.

The playing is sound throughout - Eric's chops, on guitar, banjo, lap steel, etc. are diverse, perverse, rich and soulful. This is made clear with the great slide part on 'Sad Songs', but he's not afraid of the 'rubbish' guitar solo either - magnificent on 'Bring it on Down' (hats off too, for the wonky drumming there). Brian Ferris ads some more outstanding guitar on a couple of tracks - the echoey 'billy twang of 'Put Your Foot Down' and and lazy waltz of 'The Day I Quit Trying'.

(On the subject of waltzes, Eric obviously failed to heed Willie Nelson's warning in 'Sad Songs & Waltzes' - "aren't selling this year"... There are several on this CD, none of them especially cheery, but they're among the best. Well done for keeping the waltz spirit alive! Leadbelly will be pleased.)

There are some good songs too - 'Forget About You', 'Olgita', 'Don't Shoot The Moon' and 'The Day I quit Trying' all manage to avoid cliche while tapping right into the vein. The small combo numbers seem to fit the material more comfortably than the bar rockers, but I suspect that, live, the bar rockers would er... rock.

If you like your blues with a bit of a diverse mix you're going to like this. It's a great blend of rootsy americana styles pulled together without pandering to 'authenticity', and played with a wit and verve that honour it's antecedents whilst managing a contemporary freshness. One of the albums of the year round at my house.