New Zealand singer/songwriter Jamie McDell’s new self-titled album leverages traditional country and folk while avoiding tiresome American country music tropes. The lyrics actually demand some attention and the album is one of those collections where each listener will have their own unique list of favorites. My favorites reflect some of the genre-blurring that for me make the album so enjoyable.
The four that made my playlist:
“Limousine Running” is a bit of a throwback that brings to mind Stevie Nicks’ tunes and excess of that era. This is a close your eyes and take it in song. McDell’s voice is soothing with a touch of rasp.
“Poor Boy” feels like a John Prine song and the simple banjo backing works well. The Babbit story is told well. Love the lyrics. “you and your sister are the only gold we've got. Don't take my lesson you don't need it.” Sinclair Lewis would have been proud.
“Sailor” is a traditional country song. I mean traditional like The Carter Family. The lyrics are lovely, but I must admit the lyrics “my only purpose, my life to save” perplexes me. It seems at odds with the lighthouse symbolism of the song. But isn’t that the beauty of poetry?
“Boy into Man” channels late Sixties folk music. Even the lyrics play out as a bit of a life riddle (which fits the genre and era perfectly!).
There are 13 songs on the album. I encourage you to find your own favorites.