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Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore - Downey to Lubbock

  by Stephen Simkin

published: 17 / 7 / 2018

Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore - Downey to Lubbock
Label: Yep Roc
Format: CD


Pleasing covers-heavy set on collaborative album from country rock veterans, Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore

'Downey to Lubbock' brings together a couple of weathered kindred spirits, Dave Alvin of the Blasters and Flatlander Jimmie Dale Gilmore, for an inspired collection of songs made up of ten covers and two Alvin originals. The album’s title track celebrates the collaboration of these two veterans; Alvin hails from Downey, CA (as did Karen Carpenter – for whom Alvin wrote an unexpectedly moving requiem, ‘Downey Girl’) and Jimmie is a Lubbock, TX native. Friends for thirty years or more, it has taken them this long to record together, and, while it might be pushing it to say it’s been worth the wait, this is an undeniably enjoyable collaboration. Their voices are not an obvious blend: Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s could easily be mistaken for Willie Nelson’s, a tremulous tenor that occasionally but rarely settles into anything more robust; Alvin’s baritone rumbles beneath when they harmonise. Despite the tonal contrast, perhaps more important is the authority and wisdom that resides in these road-worn voices. The performances vary from standard rundowns to more adventurous re-workings. Most notable in the latter category is a fragile, moving ‘Deportee – Plane Wreck at Los Gatos’. Sure, there are some forgettable renditions here – ‘Buddy Brown’s Blues’ is embellished with saxophone but is really only redeemed by one of Alvin’s trademark blues-drenched solos; ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’ feels inessential but settles into quite a pleasing New Orleans groove, but there are some highlights, including The Youngbloods’ classic ‘Get Together’ and less obvious choices such as Steve “Seven Bridges Road’ Young’s ballad ‘Silverlake’. To these ears, the highlight is Alvin’s newly written ‘Billy the Kid and Geronimo’, an imagined meeting between two Wild West legends reflecting together on social injustice. Trading verses over a delicate acoustic riff (lifted, incidentally, pretty much wholesale from the aforementioned song ‘Downey Girl’), it’s a fine recording that deserves to stand alongside the best work of both of them.

Track Listing:-
1 Downey to Lubbock
2 Silverlake
3 Stealin' Stealin'
4 July, You're a Woman
5 Buddy Brown's Blues
6 The Gardens
7 Get Together
8 K.C. Moan
9 Lawdy Miss Clawdy
10 Billy the Kid and Geronimo
11 Deportee - Plane Wreck at Los Gatos
12 Walk On

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