Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
on 27 November 2010
Good old Uncut magazine. Like recommendations from a friend with impeccable taste in music, film and literature they've turned me on to many a great band. I picked up The Black Dirt Sessions on the basis of an album of the month recommendation annointing them as the new Replacements, generally enough to perk up my interest in any band.
The 'Mats mix of romanticism and roughness is definitely in evidence here. Also, in fusing the barstool wisdom, classic rock chops and rustic vibe of Americana with the gothic croak and self loathing of grunge they've managed to mate my two favourite genres of the past 15 years, so this is an album almost tailor made for me. If I could offer my own comparison, I might say Jar of Flies meets Jacksonville City Nights.
Although this is undoubtedly an album etched in black, there's enough interplay of light and shade to keep things interesting. Goodbye, Dear Friend and Blood Moon offer stark piano, haunting guitar noise and ruminations on mortality. However, songs like When She Comes Home and Hand in My Hand set the darkness to a warmer bed of gently rocking, ensemble playing. In putting the Beggars Banquet-esque rockout Mange at the point where things risk becoming a little too one paced, the band also show themselves a great constructor of records. If I had one slight criticism, it would be that singer John McCauley probably needs a few more years of downing whiskey to grow into his Tom Waits meets Mark Lanegan growl, but he still sounds pretty good to me.
As with another reviewer here, it's probably my favourite album of the year, surpassing efforts by established favourites like The Hold Steady and The National. I shall certainly be picking up the bands previous efforts and keeping an eye out for what they're up to in the future.