Trouble (Silent City Records)
There is just no disputing the good time of bad times this EP (not LP) provides the listener. Five tunes, one done twice, to take you deep into the heart of American music done road house bounce — blues, r&b, zydeco, Tex-Mex, Looziana all tied up in a just dazzling display. In other words, rock and roll to delight the soul.
What Casper and his new Cowboy Angst lineup understand is that it’s all connected. From the hills of West Virginia to the Delta. From Nashville to New York. At its best, it’s all American music. The Band knew that and so does Casper.
“Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” opens the proceedings and rightly so; a nasty tasty blues/gospel tune you won’t hear in church, with two McCrary sisters singing backup to Casper’s lead vocal. In this version, it’s the guy who’s the cat.
Then here comes “Soul Deep”. Real nice lap steel guitar by John Groover McDuffie. Tom Petty would probably have a hit with this.
“I know where you end is the start of me.”
The title song is pure Louisiana barroom rock. How can trouble make you feel so good.
“I don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble comes looking for me.”
But the absolute gem of the album is “How Can I Miss You When You’re Not Gone?” Keeps the Cajun going and the irony can’t be missed.. The song is repeated as a “front porch” instrumental with banjo and fiddle to finish out the album. But the first version will make you dance alone if there’s no one to dance with.
“Hey Marie” reaches way back to the 1950s to what Don and Phil Everly might have cut with Chuck Berry if songs could have been so damn bad back then without being censored or masqueraded. Chuck knew how to do that.
Marie writes on the wall: “Had a real good time. Don’t bother to call.” Years later he sees their history “while standing in the grocery line.”
This little album is so good we might not deserve it. But it’s here this summer.
By Brian Arsenault, International Review of Music