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Red Sky July - Red Sky July

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 27 / 10 / 2011

Red Sky July - Red Sky July
Label: Proper Records
Format: CD


Sluggish debut album from country trio Red Sky July which, despite featuring members of Texas and Alisha's Attic, does not equal all of its parts

I expected great things from Red Sky July. I’ve shelled out a fair amount of my hard-earned on albums made by all three members' previous bands. I’ve even spent my paper-round money as a young lad on singles and EPs made by one member’s famous father. While the playing, production and most notably singing on this debut album can’t be faulted it fails miserably on one count; it’s so perfect that it fails to move me. Ally McErlaine is known for his deft guitar playing with Texas, Charity Hair was formerly with the Alice Band who released a wonderful folky- pop album titled ‘The Love Junk Store’ which included brilliant covers of the Bevis Frond’s ‘Lights Are Changing’ rendering Mary Lou Lord’s cover of the same song almost redundant and a stunning interpretation of Lucy Kaplansky’s ‘Ten Year Night’ just for starters. Third and final member of Red Sky July is Shelly Poole who knows a thing or two about making interesting records and also getting them into the charts. The music Shelly made with her sister Karen as Alisha’s Attic during the latter part of the 90s still stands up today. So with three experienced and talented musicians on board it seemed that Red Sky July couldn’t go wrong and they don’t actually. They’ve taken the country route for the twelve songs on offer here; don’t be fooled by all the alt. country/Americana or especially the folk genres they’ve been lumped in with. This is country music and again there’s nothing remotely wrong with that especially when it’s performed so well, The girls' harmonies are superb and McErlaine has lost none of his guitar-playing talent despite a serious illness delaying the making of this album. But it’s just all too pleasant. It can’t be said that there’s no soul or feeling in the performances. These girls can sing beautifully as they’ve proven in the past and as they prove time and again here, but there’s nothing here apart from a couple of songs, namely ‘Rivers Wild’, which is a lovely piece of songwriting that shows that this band can cut it and deliver what we’ve come to expect from the individual members. It’s almost the only song on the album that makes you sit up and notice, McErlaine’s guitar playing almost takes your breath away and shorn of the Dolly Parton-isms it’s a captivating song from start to finish. But that song appears near the end of the album as does ‘Green Country Lanes’ which although owes a little too much to the Dixie Chicks is the other standout song here. If only they’d delivered a whole album of the calibre of those two songs. To be fair and because I was expecting so much more from this talented trio I did what I’ve done many times before and asked a few friends to lend a listen to the album just to make sure I wasn’t being too picky or missing something somewhere. But unfortunately no, the feedback was that while it’s all beautifully sung and played (the last two tracks, ‘White Feather’ and ‘The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA’ were nominated as the favourites which begs the question should the last four songs have been released as an EP?) and while it can’t really be faulted, there is nothing there which hasn’t been heard before. It feels so much like a missed opportunity; two girls who harmonise beautifully, a respected guitar player who has been missed on the music scene over the last few years and a few songs that showcase this do not make an outstanding album. While it’s hard to pinpoint just why the album fails to live up to expectations it might just be that we’ve all been too exposed to this type of music for it to have much affect on us now. There are, simply, too many other artists and bands playing the same music, almost the same songs even so that Red Sky July have difficulty standing out from the crowd. Because of those final four songs I’d give time to any future albums by Red Sky July as the basics are all here. It’s just lacking that certain something. It’s in there somewhere I’m sure, so let’s hope that the next album is more consistent. ‘Red Sky July’ is a pleasant way to spend half an hour but unfortunately that’s all it is.

Track Listing:-
1 Hymek
2 Morning Song
3 Already Gone
4 How To Get Your Love
5 The Gold Hour
6 Evening Song
7 Loving You's Easy
8 Tables Turn
9 Rivers Wild
10 Green Country Lanes
11 White Feather
12 The Happiest Girl In The Whole USA

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