Whilst Memphis is renowned as the crossroads where blues, country, soul and gospel converge and intermingle, Fame’s reputation as an Alabaman studio steeped in soul and country recording rivals its Tennessean counterparts. Together they have been responsible for laying down DNA country soul for fifty years.
This ambience and the Fame history almost perceptibly give Careless Soul its atmosphere. Precise, tight-yet-loose Southern rhythms support atmospheric keyboard prompts and washes, edgy soul guitars and pedal steels, with brass inserts and riffs dropped in to add drama and punch, and give Tyson the ideal platform from which to launch his tales of heartbreak, despair and hope.
Yet Careless Soul is a movable American sound, with a distinct New Orleans feel in the spiralling riff, interplay between guitar, piano and brass, and gospel backing vocals of ‘Staying Kind’. ‘Gonna Love A Woman’ too bristles with laidback New Orleans backbeat piano and horns, recalling The Band's Last Waltz arrangements, whilst ‘Dark Dark’ is understated country gospel, almost hymnal in execution.
Where the straining sevenths and languid vocals defy the notion that there is a distinctive divide between country and soul, guitars, brass and pedal steel conflict and cooperate on ‘Somebody Save Me’, energised by soul swagger, tempered by country romanticism. ‘Careless Soul’ and ‘Pain In My Heart’ fall deliciously into the catchy pop soul bracket with their country inflections and string flourishes recalling Sam Cooke’s Keen and RCA hits. Cale Tyson takes on this diversity of styles with ease and delivers precise, emotional vocals time after time.
When Tyson treads his more-familiar country path, ‘Easy’ is first class urgently-paced honky-tonk complete with Jerry Allison cardboard box drumming and a down-home chicken-pickin’ solo. ‘Railroad Blues’ harnesses familiar, infectious locomotive rhythms and lyrical motifs, whilst the western movie soundtrack vibe of ‘High Lonesome Hill’ contrasts in atmosphere between prairie spaciousness and frontier town claustrophobia.
Above it all, Tyson articulates with trademark heartbroken, regretful singing, never better than on the album closer ‘Ain't It Strange’ where a string quartet, pedal steel and piano underpin and inspire an aching, emotion-laden vocal.
Date added: Mar 14, 2016
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