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Mick Reed | Goodnight, Texas

album review by Maren Johnson

Mick Reed | Goodnight, Texas

When first diving in to Mick Reed’s Goodnight, Texas, it seemed a farewell to the southern kingdom, a wave goodbye to the place of country music’s hub. The title track gives away the truth: Goodnight is a town northwest of Dallas, and doesn’t look like much of hoppin’ place to visit. Yet, the album title might have double meaning, as the title track states, “Goodnight, Texas/Rodeo/Amarillo/San Antone,” like it is a wave goodbye. In fact, the 10 tracks here sum up to a man that’s seen too many mystical women he daren’t confide in, and a handful of powerful memories.

So how does a country record about places super south in the U.S. translate to a young Vermont critic? Pretty well, actually. Mick’s drawl is thick, but his twang is minimal, and his band rocks. Rich Adkins is a powerhouse on drums, and the guitar work by Mick, Casey Abrams, Hugh Pool, and Chris Brooks tie together country open chords, strong solos, and outlining slide. This is country music for those that don’t really like country.

But it’s not pop by any means. Accordian, honky tonk piano, and string arrangements make sure of this. The opener has a Willie Nelson solo style intro. “Damn the keepers on the road,” Mick sings, and this two-minute intro shows off Mick’s disconcerted relationship with the road, especially when he says, “The journey takes its toll.”

Following is a George Thorogood and The Destroyers style romp, “The Singapore Sling”. “She needs a lot of attention/but she don’t need a ring,” Mick sing talks. “She says she loves you/but it don’t mean a thing.” The music is fast tempo’d, the piano sizzling, harmonica chiming in to make the thing bluesy.

Many of the songs speak for themselves. You can guess where “Honey Bee”, “Sunshine Hair”, and “Queen of the Desert” are going to go. The album has a wide array of tunes, the slow croons and the speedier pick-me-ups. The ballads are more convincing. “Queen of the Desert” is truthful and endearing. “You’re Cleopatra every night in Vegas,” Mick sings, and the music slowly crescendos with trickling piano and the right amount of slide. “It’s been many years since I’ve seen you,” Mick sighs. “I can’t believe my eyes/you’re a desert mirage,” (which he coyly rhymes with “entourage”).

The closer, “A Fool at the Other” is a gem. Slow burning, the slightly jazzy coo has low hanging organ, a song perfect for lamenting at the end of the bar. “I’ve been listening to your bull,” it goes, with guest vocalist Madeleine Peyroux, who sounds like Bessie Smith. “The future looks bright/but not tonight,” and Mick’s no stranger to this feeling.

Mick’s strength is his songwriting. “A Fool at the Other” is a wonderfully paired down to the essentials. “Tullia” is sparse and says so much because of it. He embodies the spirit of the music he set out to make, and it never feels phony. It might not all be autobiographical, but if he’s taking on personae, it works.

His fault is his voice, which isn’t too sharp. I can’t imagine this record if he had written the lyrics and music, and Madeleine had sung the whole thing. It’d be a much different record, but at least Mick doesn’t seem convinced his an amazing singer. He never pushes his range. He just sings.

So, this isn’t the best record ever made, and may not encapsulate that country vibe some people are going for, but listen to “Tullia” and learn what Mick has in him, an ability to hold onto moments and share them. He pulls the south into a mix of songs and anyone in the world can listen to them, and you don’t have to love country to do it.

Bottom line: Some songs have it, others not so much, but Mick does country the way Cash and Nelson would appreciate.


 

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