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Howe Gelb - Future Standards

  by Keith How

published: 25 / 2 / 2017

Howe Gelb - Future Standards
Label: Fire Records
Format: CD


Surprising new direction for ex-Giant Sand leader Howe Gelb on his first album since the dissolution of his former band

'Future Standards' is not what I was expecting. Howe Gelb is one of those cult musicians that has done it all. With the legendary Giant Sand and in other various alt. country guises he has travelled dusty highways, recounted weird and wondrous tales of lost America,trailer parks, bars and churches. He has collaborated with gospel choirs and toured extensively with his bands and as a solo artist. In many ways Gelb has helped pioneer what we now call Americana. His work is never predictable, always inventive and thoroughly engaging. Gelb has always been full of surprises, none more so than this latest project, 'Future Standards'. Gone is the faded denim and open spaces of forgotten America. Howe Gelb is reinvented and found behind a piano in a dimly lit jazz joint off Main Street in downtown Anywhere City. This new album is a completely new ball game. Consisting of twelve new compositions, Gelb has written his own American songbook brimming with smoky jazz ballads. The stated intent was to recreate that bar room feel found on old jazz standards and along with his superb backing musicians he brings a genuine vintage familiarity to his compositions. 'Standards' is so laid back it is almost horizontal. You loosen your tie, place your Homburg on the bar and order a whisky sour. The Trio are over in the corner on a small stage. The low key jazz filters through the smoky haze and muted conversations. The brunette perched on the stool close by asks you for a light and the rest is history. Sometimes you are getting Hoagy Carmichael, a hint of Sinatra and a whole bag full of Chet Baker. Gelb’s voice is restrained and controlled and his delivery is perfection. His duets with Lonna Kelly are spinetingling, conjuring up forgotten memories of Astrud Gilberto, none more so than on 'Terribly So' where her arrival is totally unexpected but delightful. Kelly is sultry and seductive while Gelb is heartbroken and slightly forlorn. Gelb's piano playing is restrained and stylish. 'The Shiver Revisited' conjures up the classic images of American painter Edward Hopper. The loner in an empty bar watching the world pass him by. 'Future Standards' is music for dreamers, melancholic and low key but also cool and understated and thoroughly enjoyable.

Track Listing:-
1 Terribly So
2 Irresponsible Lovers
3 A Book You've Read Before
4 Relevant
5 Ownin' It
6 Clear
7 Impossible Thing
8 The Shiver Revisted
9 Mad Man at Large
10 May You Never Fall In Love
11 Sweet Confusion
12 Mad Man at Home

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live reviews

Luminaire, London, 4/10/2009
Howe Gelb - Luminaire, London, 4/10/2009
At the London Luminaire, Anthony Middleton watches Howe Gelb manage to pull off the rare trick of being both consumately entertaining and also genuinely experimental and inspirational
Bodoga, Nottingham, 2/10//2009
Babylon, Ottawa, 2/3/2006

favourite album

Sno Angel Like You (2016)
Howe Gelb - Sno Angel Like You
Keith How examines Giant Sand front man Howe Gelb's solo album 'Sno Angel Like You' which found him working with a Canadian Gospel choir and finds it standing the test of time



Gathered (2019)
Off-kilter but haunting lounge jazz on new solo album from former Giant Sand frontman Howe Gelb
7 Inches of 'Sno (2010)

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