The Big Nowhere’s 2013 album Don’t Burn the Fortune has just fallen into my lap; it’s full of late night, lonesome music for shadowy New Orleans bars and dance halls.
Here we have a glorious wallow in sentimental Country with a side of Stephen Stills and Johnny Cash. Vocalist Simon Sinclair invites us into the album with a hushed haunted vocal on ’Who will Save the Bodies When They Drown,’ whilst Billy Crowe and supporting ensemble provides an at-odds-to-the-tone-of-the-lyric jazzy background of guitar and percussion to drive it along.
’Pressure Drop’ is perfect for that awkward first dance and rush of love; the guitar is sublime, the vocal light and the backing jaunty. The wonderful ’A Heartfelt Lament’ is a tongue in cheek masterpiece of a murder ballad and ’I’ll Bring the Good Times’ (the stand out track for me) is an end of summer romance pop song that wouldn’t be out-of-place on a Crosby, Stills and Nash album. The steel guitar is a joy to hear, adding its special blend of pathos and longing to the song.
’Margarita’ is a broken song sung to an empty glass, full of impotent rage and angry guitars and ’Dancing at the Country Queen’ is everything you’d expect from a Country love duet, the backing vocal compliments Simon perfectly in this perfect last dance.
You will recognise the sharp drumming, drawling saxophone and crying blues guitar on this album from a thousand gangster and private detective movies. The brass adds a plaintive, weary cry on some tracks and a mariachi march on others. Simon Sinclair never sounds the same on any two tracks, constantly changing his tone, pitch and even the gravel in his soul.
The album is a love letter to an older America, melancholic but with some of the old fight still sparking. It could break your heart; it’s gentle and wise, humorous and angry, sorrowing and hopeful. I had no idea what to expect when I pressed play but I’m glad I did as this is a gem.
Pass the bourbon!