A verbal vignette, “hat down, boots up, saddle tightly bound” graphically opens the album as the hero gallops desperately through the dust to bring an outlaw to justice. Such classic images, imprinted on our minds from years of cowboy comics and Western movies are expertly conjured up by this superb country, jazz, rockabilly and western-swing band.
This is their fifth album. Seven of the numbers, including the title track, are originals written by its leader, deep-toned singer and bassist, Alex Dormont. For a sample try this: Devil On My Tail.
There are also smart arrangements of Vincent & Howards’ When The Bloom Is On The Sage, Johnny Gimble’s Hill Country Sunset, Sid Robin & Charlie Shavers’ Undecided and George Frayne’s (aka Commander Cody) Sunset On The Sage. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly – a tribute to Ennio Morricone, who died in 2020 – is replicated so perfectly that it’s difficult to distinguish it from the original film theme. Dormont’s whistling here is spot on.
Selena Rosenbalm and Liz Morphis bring top-class vocals, both individually and jointly, to the party. The infectious Night Rider and Takin’ A Trip in particular will have you humming all day. Billy Curtis is superlative on fiddle as is Cat Clemons on guitars but suffice to say that the equal contribution and manifest versatility of all band members is key to the success of this impressive album.
While jazz may not be the predominant element in the mix, the entirety of this toe-tappin’ brew is so good it doesn’t really seem to matter.
Devil On My Tail; Hill Country Texas; When The Bloom Is On The Sage; Once Again; Night Rider; Takin’ A Trip; My Heart Will Always Be In San Antone; The Good, The Bad And The Ugly; Sunset On The Sage; Morning Green; Up The Old Chisholm Trail; Undecided; Hill Country Sunset (38.10)
Alex Dormont (v, b); Selena Rosenbalm (v); Liz Morphis (v); Cat Clemons (g); Rick McRae (g on track 7); Billy Curtis (vn); Jimmy Shortell (t, flh); Joey Calarusso (ts, f); Steven Vague (ts); Ryan Neubauer (d, pc). Dripping Springs, Texas 12-15 October 2020.