B. Knox “Heartbreak & Landscape” (Three Mast, 2020)

B. Knox’s debut album pulls on most of the threads of Americana. Pedal steel guitar and a stately pace mark out opener ‘Deep Dark Love’, and a Neil Young guitar line shapes ‘Corners’. Barroom piano punctuates several of the songs contrasting with the guitars. The bluesy ‘Living With a Shadow’ has a Tom Petty flavour, seemingly a touchstone for many newer Americana artists. The Benmont Tench style organ solo confirms the influence. ‘Best Laid Plans’ minor key slide guitar adds menace to a tale of a relationship going wrong.

The words are literate and affecting. ‘Deep Dark Love’ tells us that; “words hit like torpedoes, striking ships within my heart”. You might expect this from someone who has spent years writing songs for himself before being “discovered”. ‘A Different Sound’ adds a Willie Nelson feel to the list of influences. The songs tend towards the sombre later in the album. ‘Second Spark’ and especially ‘Dark Sorry Night’ which tells of “prowling old ghosts without homes/Sad looking spirits covered in skin”. All of which suggest that Knox perhaps doesn’t have the happiest relationship history.

As a debut B. Knox has made a solid start with ‘Heartbreak and Landscape’, some interesting songs, particularly closer ‘Hurricane Breeze’ which has the epic feel of the best Neil Young songs. The comparisons to artists like Young and Steve Earle say a lot about the quality of the songwriting. If B.Knox has more at home like these and can broaden the musical arrangements a bit, his next album will be pushing for a place on the best of year lists.

An album good enough to stand with anything released this year
8/10

Author: Tim Martin

I spend some of my time in Clevedon (Somerset) and some in Crianlarich (Scotland), but most of it on the road in between listening to Emmylou Harris, Tom Petty and Over The Rhine, or anything else that makes the miles go by quicker.

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