John Statz – The Fire Sermon
Really pleased to announce that John Statz’s new album, The Fire Sermon, is now available worldwide. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, it follows his 2015 release, Tulsa, which was lovingly reviewed here. The two albums are wonderfully complementary. Strong on narrative, big on melody, they make you feel slightly wistful at the same time as they get your toes a-tapping. The vistas are huge. There are plenty of references to his beloved Colorado. But the stories are always local. People look back at the past, reflecting on what happened, and without necessarily being able to explain why. The opening track, ‘Cashmere’, sets the scene, with the full band playing impeccably. A particular favourite, though, is ‘With Some Horses’, which could have been written by none other than Willy Vlautin. There’s also a cover of a Caitlin Harnett song, ‘Bad Man’, which provides a really nice take on the original. Disappointed to have missed him by only a day in both Bray and Nottingham on his recent European tour, but hoping to catch up next time and looking forward to more releases. The Fire Sermon is highly recommended.
John Statz – The Fire Sermon
I’m happy to announce that the legendary John Statz has a new album in the works. It’s his eighth album. His last album was called Tulsa. It was totally great. In fact, it was reviewed more than favourably on this very blog, making an end-of-year list no less. Anyway, the new album is called The Fire Sermon and it’s scheduled for March 2017. But … John Statz needs your help. The songs are in the can, but to fund everything from the mixing, to the mastering, to the pressing of the physical copies, to the artwork, to the publicity, and more, he needs some financial help. So, he’s launched a Kickstarter campaign. His two previous albums benefited from a similar campaign. Hopefully, this one will be just as successful. I’ve made a small donation. I’m encouraging you to do the same. It’ll be worth it. The clips from the new songs sound really good and upbeat. Like all good Kickstarter campaigns, the benefits you receive increase as the amount you pledge increases. My favourite is the $500 or more pledge. With this, you get all the music. Yeah, yeah. More importantly, you get a special 20-page paper written by Professor Statz, arguing for or against the success of any US president up to and including Andrew Johnson. As a bit of a presidential buff myself, this one really appealed to me. I think I’d have gone for William Henry Harrison, just to make the challenge extra special. Anyway, if you like good music and have a little money to spare, head over to the John Statz Kickstarter page and make that pledge.
When war is a thing of the past, when hunger and poverty have been banished from the land, when the Cubs finally win the World Series, then the world will be a better and fairer place and these artists will sell millions of albums. In the meantime, we have to be content with the thought that they all delivered a great record this year, even if some of them had to ship the units themselves. Here’s my Best of the Year, Pt. 3.
Noah Gundersen – Carry The Ghost
Carry The Ghost managed to bring a winter chill to warm summer days. It had its share of slow, sad songs, but there were some feisty guitar licks too. And it all came to a head on ‘Heartbreaker’. There’s a clue in the title.
As part of Old Crow Medicine Show, Gill Landry used to sell millions of albums (well maybe). As a solo artist, he has found his voice. And what a good one it is. His s/t release was chock full of gorgeous, slightly melancholy songs. Oh, and a duet with Laura Marling. Now that was something.
John Statz – Tulsa
Honest albums from hard-working artists. That’s always a good start and John Statz took it from there. Tulsa was full of small-town stories with very big themes. And all of them backed by some fine playing and great production.
Jacob Golden – Invisible Record
After a long absence Jacob Golden returned with a triumph of an album. It was worth the wait. Catchy hooks, bittersweet lyrics, and a certain integrity that transcended the music alone. Will we have to wait so long for the next instalment?
Grand Lake Islands – Song From Far
Rumours of a merger with Great Lake Swimmers turned out to be false. So, we were left with Song From Far. And very happy it made us. This January release was the harbinger of a really great musical year.
Six months in, this is typically the time that music blogs list their favourite albums of the year so far. Well, Sufjan Stevens, Sun Kil Moon, Courtney Barnett, and My Morning Jacket are all up there on the list. And so is John Statz. I missed this record when it was first released (and missed him playing in Dublin too, darn!). So here’s a review now.
John Statz – Tulsa
John Statz can tell a great story. The pro sportsman who retires to not very much. “They told me there’d be press jobs waiting after”. The woman who’s found dead. “She had a future, She had two daughters”. The Battle of Tannenberg (no less). “We dug trenches in hard ground”. And perhaps most movingly of all is ‘Tennessee’. It’s the story of forbidden love some time past. Jim and Tom have a lot going for them. But those were different days. “Back in those older times it wasn’t heard of, Or maybe it was just whispered behind closed doors”. So when they walk into a corner bar in Chicago, you get a sense that things aren’t going to end happily after ever. Sure enough. “They left at 1 o’clock, Billy followed them four blocks, Fired all six shots”. In a weekend that saw the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, it’s all the more resonant. But there’s more to John Statz than just great story telling. There’s a set of seemingly confessional songs too. “Red wine, sleeping pills, Help me get back to your arms”. And most of all, some great music. It hardly separates him out from a pack of other artists, but there’s a real Harvest-era Neil Young vibe to the performances. The pedal steel on a bunch of songs is worthy of the late Ben Keith and when they’re electric the guitars sound like The Stray Gators have just reformed and are still at the peak of their powers. This is John Statz’s fifth (or sixth) album. Whatever happened to the others? Never mind. Just bring on the next. But in the meantime, listen to these tales told in Tulsa.
Pop Matters review