Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shannon McNally's new album with Dr. John is a tribute to late great American songwriter Bobby Charles. She plays the Iron Horse on Thursday, May 9th at 7PM.

Bobby Charles wrote “See You Later Alligator,” “Walking to New Orleans" and others. The album has guest performances by Derek Trucks, Will Sexton, Luther Dickinson, and Vince Gill.

The death of Bobby Charles, in 2010, touched off a resurgence of interest in the work of the Louisiana-born singer-songwriter. The standard obituaries focused mainly on the swamp pop that Charles pioneered in the late fifties and early sixties; he wrote “See You Later, Alligator,” which was recorded by Bill Haley and His Comets, and “Walking to New Orleans,” which was recorded by Fats Domino. But longer appreciations also made room for assessments of the gently biting solo material Charles recorded in the early seventies, which sounded like Randy Newman fronting the Band. That solo work is at the heart of “Small Town Talk” (Sacred Sumac), a collaboration between the singer Shannon McNally and the pianist Dr. John. Shannon talks about the project in this short video.

Bobby Charles’s wrote for himself and other rock and roll greats like Joe Cocker, Etta James, Bill Haley and the Comets, Fats Domino, and Ray Charles. He performed with Chuck Berry, The Platters, and Little Richard.

Small Town Talk is out April 30 and Shannon McNally is at the Iron Horse on Thursday, May 9th at 7PM
Stream the new album here.
By including no fewer than seven songs from Charles’s eponymous 1972 solo album—which was reissued in a deluxe edition by Rhino Handmade in 2011—McNally seems like she’s making a case for Charles as one of the great lost singer-songwriters of the era. She should; he is. Charles’s greatest asset was his subtlety—his insinuating melodies and laid-back vocals made him both easy to listen to and hard to fully digest. The title song, co-written with Rick Danko, of the Band (who later recorded it), is an indelible portrait of provincial life, done in loping tempo and with a jaunty whistling solo (here reconceived as a harmonica part). The funky “Street People” (which celebrates the social value of laziness, or at the very least the absence of ambition) and “Save Me Jesus” (which laments greed, war, runaway technology, and nearly everything else) are just as pointed, and just as charming. Charles is not new to McNally—she included a winsome cover of “Tennessee Blues” on her album “Geronimo” back in 2005—and she wisely handles his songs with a mix of clear, simple phrasing and a restraint that suggests even deeper reserves of power. Dr. John and his band, the Lower 911, provide New Orleans funk throughout, especially on rousing renditions of the broken-love tracks “Love in the Worst Degree” and “Long Face,” the latter of which includes spoken (and hilarious) interjections by the good doctor. Charles’s loveliest song, the Zen-like “I Must Be in a Good Place Now,” is saved for last, where it produces both peace and sadness. Great Article here in The Advocate.

Small Town Talk is out April 30 and Shannon McNally is at the Iron Horse on Thursday, May 9th at 7PM. Opener Sandy Bailey’s blend of Patty Griffin Americana with the gossamer sonority of Mazzy Star makes for a soothing, vibrant soundscape that has enjoyed much praise and popularity among artistic communities in Western Massachusetts.

Tickets for Shannon McNally at the Iron Horse with Sandy Bailey on Thursday, May 9th at 7PM are on sale now at Northampton Box Office, 76 Main Street, 413 586 8686 and online at IHEG.com.

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