# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Anne Mccue - Roll

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 10 / 4 / 2004

Anne Mccue - Roll
Label: Messenger Records
Format: CD


Impressive third album from former Australian filmmaker Anne McCue, which, even amidst the current flux of other female singer/songwriters, still proves to be" in a class of its own"

There has never been a better time for female singer / songwriters than right now. Every week seems to throw up another female singer who is turning out catchy, pure pop songs. Then we have the new breed of jazz and soul singers breaking through like Amy Winehouse, Josh Stone and Norah Jones. Those female singers who are taking the alt. country/ Americana route probably have the hardest job making an impact; there are what seems hundreds of them and up against the leaders in that field like Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams it is sadly impossible for most of them to reach a wide audience even though they all have something to offer. The one area that is lacking from female singer / songwriters is the straightforward rock genre. Sheryl Crow looked for a while like she would kick start it into life again, but with each release she seems to move further away from the sound of ‘Tuesday Night Music Club’. So we should welcome this, the third release from Australian Anne McCue, with open arms. Surprisingly for such an accomplished musician ( McCue plays all the guitars on the album as well as lap steel, banjo and Hammond organ on some tracks ; Lucinda Williams referred to McCue as “an amazing guitarist”) music was not her first choice of career. McCue left Sydney University of Technology with a degree in film production and film studies. After playing her brother’s guitar for a number of years it took the passing of McCue’s father and the realisation that life is indeed too short to give her the push needed to join a rock band. McCue joined the Australian power pop group Girl Monstar as lead guitarist before jamming in local blues clubs. A three month gig in Vietnam turned into a year with McCue honing her skills playing a mixture of blues, alt. country, jazz and rock for an amazing six nights every week. McCue then went to the U.S. to tour and record with Eden a.k.a.. an acoustic based rock band. Staying on in L.A. when the band folded McCue carried on working on her debut album ‘Amazing Ordinary Things’ which she had started in Melbourne before her stint with Eden a.k.a. It was while touring the album that McCue came to the attention of Lucinda Williams whom she played shows with as well as Dave Alvin and Richard Thompson. As well as selling out her own shows after that tour McCue released her second album, ‘Live: Ballad Of An Outlaw Woman’,which recorded at the Fillmore in San Francisco, is one of about 25 shows where McCue opened for Lucinda Williams. This more or less brings us up to date and onto ‘Roll’. McCue was going for “a live in the studio feel, not too many overdubs” with ‘Roll’ and wanted to stick with her regular three piece band of herself on guitars, Dusty Wakeman (who co produced along with McCue) on bass and Dave Raven on drums. Later overdubs of B3, accordion and Wurlitzer by Carl Byron were added as well as Mike Stinson and Eric Gardner taking the drum duties on some tracks. But that live, spontaneous feel is there throughout all the tracks. McCue managed to get the sound and feel she wanted. The thirteen tracks cover all bases; the title track ‘Roll’ is an out and out barroom rocker and apart from some added tambourine on the song by Jon DeBaun it’s just the three piece band kicking ass and McCue proves that’s all that’s needed; guitar, bass and drums. Lyrically McCue (who wrote or co-composed all the songs here apart from one cover version) keeps it simple and direct. The above mentioned ‘Roll’ is a slap in the face for her doubters “I feel alright for someone who was kicked out of school, I feel alright for someone who was told she was a fool” is sung with such power it makes one wonder if it was wise to be uncertain in the first place. The first two tracks on the album, ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘Nobody’s Sleeping’ are both rock based songs tinged with the blues and both are a showcase for McCue’s strong vocals and extraordinary guitar playing. The third song, ‘Stupid’ is a surprise, just when the listener feels they are in for 13 tracks with their roots planted firmly in the rock/blues format McCue hits us with some beautiful Byrds inspired guitar before the song unfolds into a tale of a considered suicide : “Stupid, on a lonely afternoon, I almost gave up on my life too soon”. It’s a beautiful song, in spite of it’s lyrics, with organ adding texture to McCue’s gorgeous guitar lines. McCue handles the shifting styles well vocally. She doesn’t have a particularly distinctive voice. There are shades of both Williams and Crow in there, but it’s a strong, faultless voice. The song, ‘Crazy Beautiful Child’ is a ballad of sorts and McCue shows her gentle side in the closing, pleading lines. But it’s McCue’s guitar playing which takes the honours on this album. One listen to the slide playing on the bluesy ‘Hangman’ will convert any doubters. Lucinda Williams is definitely not wrong! ’50 Dollar Whore’ is another track where McCue shows another side to her talents. An acoustic love lost ballad, it has McCue sounding regretful and hurt. “A fifty dollar whore could solicit more respect than I gave myself” she sings before delivering the heartbreaking last line’ “two years have gone by since I saw you, I hardly think about you”, leaving us in no doubt that the opposite is true. The following two songs, ‘Tiny Little Song’ and ‘Milkman’s Daughter’ both show a lighter, higher tone to McCue’s vocals but again it’s her guitar playing which steals the show. There are some genuine heartbreaking moments scattered throughout this album, ‘Where The Darkness Grows’ is another love lost ballad where the guitar playing alone can stir up the emotions and that’s without McCue’s world weary vocals telling us “you stole the fire from my eyes”. Mention must be made of the one cover on the album. The one take version of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Machine Gun’ is simply stunning. From the very beginning of the song it’s hard not to imagine it’s Hendrix playing that guitar. It takes a brave person to tackle a Hendrix song and an even more talented one to pull it off. Until now I’d run a mile not to hear a cover of a Hendrix song. Why would anyone want to do it? But McCue has changed my view now. With the rhythm section of Wakeman and Gardner this version must rank as the best cover ever of a Hendrix song. It’s breathtaking and a good way to end the album; a nine and a half minute song that leaves you gasping for more. This album is in a class of its own; McCue is such an exceptionable talent. It’s no surprise she is being championed by other musicians. For diversity and outstanding guitar playing there really is nothing that comes close to ‘Roll’ at the moment.

Track Listing:-
1 I Want You Back
2 Nobody's Sleeping
3 Stupid
4 Crazy Beautiful Child
5 Hangman
6 50 Dollar Whore
7 Tiny Little Song
8 Milkman's Daughter
9 Roll
10 Gandhi
11 Where The Darkness Grows
12 Ballad Of An Outlaw Woman
13 Machine Gun
14 Ballad Of An Outlaw Woman
15 Fitzroy Blues
16 These Things
17 Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

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