A sterling deviation into new territory.
This is Carson McHone’s 3rd album and second for Loose music. It was recorded in Ontario with Daniel Romano in a home studio and the dynamic duo did it pretty much by themselves, only roping in a couple of friends to help out. Mark Lalama (Accordion/ keyboards) and Davis Nardi (sax). As well as change of recording location this album see’s a bit of a change in musical direction away from traditional Nashville country to a more classic pop / rock format from the 60/70’s. But don’t let that put you off, this record is packed with quality tunes.
Things get under way with ‘Hawks Don’t Share‘ which is all raunchy jangling guitars, McHone’s exquisite voice soaring above with a super catchy chorus. An unexpected saxophone break takes things even higher. The title song ‘Still Life‘ swings along with a keyboard/ synth refrain , some swooning vocals , and damn if there’s not more of those super infectious guitars again which take the tune to a guitar freak out (Technical term) climax. ‘Fingernail Moon‘ slows the pace and is a gorgeous acoustic song with accordion accompaniment.
Teaming up with Daniel Romano certainly seems a smart move as this record broadens the approach to Carson McHone’s music. ‘Spoilt on The Vine‘ puts the T in Twang and the sweet vocals are backed by lush swathes of orchestral arrangements as the song progresses. The vocal very reminiscent of the great Hazeldine all those years ago. ‘Sweet Magnolia’ starts as a sparse piano ballad then there’s more weeping keyboard orchestration adding textures that lift the tune to new heights. ‘Trim The Rose‘ has an aching vocal that seem to document a separation tinged with regret but optimistically looking forward to new beginnings.
This is a great album and although at times it deviates from Carson McHone’s traditional country sounds, veering off into almost AOR territory in this case that genre is meant as a huge compliment.