Trevor Sewell & Friends: Calling Nashville – An American Adventure
English bluesman Trevor Sewell has assembled an excellent group of musicians, including Janis Ian, Vickie Carrico and Tracy Nelson, to record a very fine, blues-tinged Americana album. Sewell’s rasping, world-worn vocals suit the music down to the ground – think Mark Knopfler, Tom Waits or Ray Wylie Hubbard, and you’ll get the idea. And in the duets with Janis Ian – Fade To Grey, a catchy late-night jazz number – and with Tracy Nelson – Long Time Ago, a Dylan-esque ballad – Sewell’s voice complements these two great artists beautifully.
This really is a very tasty portion of Americana, eleven hugely entertaining songs, encompassing bluegrass, rock’n’roll, country rock, blues, jazz and laid-back rock. But it all coheres, held together by the strength of the songs, the fine arrangements and Sewell’s gravelly vocals. The musicianship throughout is terrific, with some very fine guitar work by Sewell and the outstanding fiddle playing of Kellen Michael Wenrich. The interplay of the picked guitar and fiddle on Stand Next to Him is toe-tappingly satisfying.
The album was produced at the legendary Sound Emporium Studies in Nashville by the highly experienced Geoff Wilbourn who has worked with the likes of Johnny Winter, Rory Block, Robben Ford, and Sonny Landreth, and the sound quality is top notch.
It’s hard to pick out favourites from this first-rate set of songs, but I did really enjoy the jazzy Fade to Grey and Tear It Down, with its lovely guitar and fiddle solos. I liked the positive vibe of Tear It Down – “you can tear the building down…but I will rise from the ash you leave behind” – which is characteristic, actually, of the whole album. In the rockin’ opener, Some Day, Sewell looks forward to us “breaking the chain, breaking the circle and treating each other right.” And in Blanket of Hope, with its gospel backing vocals, there’s a defiant “I’ll face these dark days alone.”
There’s wisdom in these songs too: Mountain of Gold suggests “we must learn to trust each other through these troubled times,” while Long Time Ago counsels facing the truth about our past but then moving on.
One of this year’s outstanding Americana albums, for sure.