Stony Point Rd’s ‘Beautiful Losers’ is a collection of songs originally written in the late 90s and early 2000s by Ola Goransson. The songs are focused on characters living their lives in a small American town and Goransson has compiled a fine band to back these pieces. Tommy Dettamore plays ringing steel guitar on ‘Summer Song’. A chugging blues rhythm is complemented with thoughtful guitar from Mark Marshall on ‘The Devil Took my Heart’. Amy Miller’s vocal contributions lift every song that she features in.
However, listeners will be divided on Goransson’s delivery. An Americana rock and roll record is not generally the place to go for enunciated diction and singers with perfect pitch. The genre is packed with artists who have built their music around scratchy, unconventional voices with limited ranges. Let us name-check people of the calibre of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Steve Earle and Tom Waits. However, they all have a quality to their singing that pulls you along. For this reviewer, Goransson’s delivery is in the vein of Lou Reed and errs on the monotonal.
The eleven songs feature love songs and bluesy tunes. ‘Dear Jane’ is the story of a former girlfriend who is now missing. The piano-based ballad ‘I Haven’t Dreamt of You Yet’ seems a coda to Jane’s story. ‘The Devil Took My Heart’ is the old satanic blues story and ‘Summer Song’ features Amy Miller’s contrary wish for snow.
The album finishes with the most successful piece, ‘Heavy Metal Wedding’ which is sung as a duo with Amy Miller and has a title that makes you smile straightaway. It’s a wry, generous look at rock and roll nuptials. The bride comes down the aisle dressed in black with a “..sacrilegious smile”. It finishes with the band given space to express themselves and features an excellent, uncredited saxophone contribution.
Gunnerson has assembled some accomplished musicians to back these songs, but the singing is a barrier to the material taking off. However, if you have a soft spot for Dylan’s erratic vocals on ‘Christmas in the Heart’ this could be a record for you.