Review: Moreland and Arbuckle – 1861
Posted on: Saturday, Sep 27, 2008
MORELAND & ARBUCKLE
(NorthernBlues Music: NBM0044)
Here’s another gem from the good folk at NorthernBlues Music, some raw, ass-kicking hill-country blues from Kansas! Aaron Moreland and Dustin Arbuckle’s debut for the Canadian label is a treat from start to finish – the title, “1861”, coming from the year their home state joined the Union.
Moreland’s array of guitars, with Arbuckle on vocals and harmonica are joined by drummer Brad Horner, together the trio create a powerful sound, which is rooted mainly in the blues, but would probably appeal to a cross-over rock audience.
They get down to business with a thundering opening track, a romp through Hound Dog Taylor’s “Gonna Send You Back To Georgia”; followed by the original “Fishing Hole”, featuring Aaron Moreland’s homemade cigar-box guitar, made by a friend in Memphis and with a mighty tone.
Dustin Arbuckle is no slouch on the harmonica and the excellent “Diamond Ring” features his playing, before a cover of RL Burnside’s hill-country classic, “Jumper On The Line” – titled “See My Jumper Hangin’ Out On The Line – in fact the whole album has echoes of the Mississippi greats, such as the aforementioned Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and other Fat Possum artists, and is none the worse for it.
“The Legend” has a western feel to it, and a true story of life, love and loss, based on a real person; “Never Far Behind” rides along on a great slide guitar groove, with Horner’s drums kicking the song along in an ode to Kansas life, with a nod to the late, great Jimmy Reed on “Please, Please Mammy”, a lazy shuffle with a wheezy first harmonica solo, and tougher second one, from Arbuckle, and rip-roaring guitar solo from Moreland – very nice indeed, and one of the album highlights.
Oklahoma City songwriter Ryan Taylor, a friend of the band, contributes the stomping “Pittsburgh In The Morning, Philadelphia At Night”, followed by the beautiful acoustic “Wrong I Do”, dominated by Moreland’s resonator guitar and haunting vocal from Arbuckle. The album closes with “Wiser Jam”, apparently made up on the spot, and probably not like anything else before it – a meandering, almost hypnotic piece with an almost Eastern feel, with Chris Wiser guesting on Hammond B3 organ.