Having put out one album already this year – Play One More: The Songs of Ian and Sylvia, Tom Russell isn’t letting the grass grow under him. He’ll be releasing another brand-new studio album Folk Hotel on Proper Records. Folk Hotel will be out on September 8th, in advance of his UK tour. The physical version – which is the one you’ll be wanting to buy – showcases 13 new Russell originals plus, as one of two bonus tracks, Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” a duet with Joe Ely, featuring Joel Guzman on Tex-Mex accordion. Augie Meyers and Eliza Gilkyson also make guest appearances on the album, which was recorded at Congress House studio in Austin, Texas.
A signature Tom Russell collection, the wide-ranging subject matter on Folk Hotel includes songs and stories about New York’s Chelsea Hotel, a journey up the road from El Paso to Santa Fe, a cowboy song about Ian Tyson refusing to “leave his old horses”, a song for Dylan Thomas – melting into a James Joycean landscape about day in the life of Belfast, a song about Tom meeting J.F.K., another song using only 16th century slang and more. In other words a pretty typical Tom Russell album.
Tom Russell is a favourite artist in Americana circles – which I guess means right here – and has been attracting a lot of critical praise for recent releases particularly The Rose of Roscrae, the third in his series of acclaimed folk operas, following The Man From God Knows Where and the all-time classic Hotwalker. Blood and Candle Smoke is of course a much loved album, oh hell we love it all. But Blood and Candle Smoke is a pretty perfect album – the version of Guadalupe on it is a heartbreaker. Russell’s songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Doug Sahm, Nanci Griffith, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dave Alvin, Joe Ely, and many others. But no-one does Tom Russell like Tom Russell.
Tracklisting for “Folk Hotel”:
1. Up In The Old Hotel
2. Leaving El Paso
3. I’ll Never Leave These Old Horses
4. The Sparrow of Swansea (For Dylan Thomas)
5. All On A Belfast Morning
6. Rise Again, Handsome Johnny
7. Harlan Clancy
8. The Last Time I Saw Hank
9. The Light Beyond The Coyote Fence
10. The Dram House Down In Gutter Lane
11. The Day They Dredged The Liffey – The Banks Of Montauk – The Road To Santa Fe-O
12. The Rooftops Of Copenhagen
Bonus Tracks – physical version only:
13. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
14. Scars On His Ankles
And here’s another excellent version of Guadalupe, God Damn It !