This is John Lilly's finest album to date, for a variety of reasons. They are, from the top, the production by Lilly and the renowned Tommy Detamore, the use of a full band - Lilly's last two albums were more stripped down in terms of instrumentation - a band that includes some very fine players and at this point I want to single out the playing of Tom Lewis (former and current Wagoneer) who's name can be found on many an Austin recorded album as well as on stage with a wide range of players. He's never less that committed to the song and his varied but unobtrusive style is part of what drives any song he plays. It doesn't stop there on this album the talents of Kayton Roberts, Bill Kirchen, Sonny Landreth, Skip Edwards, Floyd Domino, Tim O'Brien and Mike Bub and others bring much to make the album special. But that, in itself, would not make a great album, without having the selection of great songs and Lilly's top-notch vocals it could have fallen flat on it's face. The songs are often heartbreak country and are delivered with conviction and honesty. That's a key word here, honesty as this is music not made for radio, for affectation, for mass sales but rather music made with heart, it is therefore music that will find its own level among discerning listeners. Tracks like I Don't Know Where To Start - a duet with Brennen Leigh (one of two), I Thought You'd Never Call, Anyone But You and the title track all speak of loss, sorry and regret - key elements of real country music. In some ways this is an album of two parts as from track 9 to track 11 the music takes on a different but equally effective tone as Lilly delivers a set of acoustic songs with Tim O'Brien, Mike Bub and Tommy Detamore musically accompanying him. Short and Sweet and As Is are both repeat listen songs. Then O'Brien joins the full band for Done Done It. The album closed with the song Somewhere In Texas which is equally compelling with John Lilly accompanied just by his guitar and shows that whatever the setting these songs and this singer stands tall. Undoubtably one of the albums of the year.
A live recording from Lexington, Kentucky on May 6th 2009. John Lilly is a traditional singer/songwriter who here delivers a set of his own songs from the Red Barn Radio show in the elemental form of voice, guitar and mandolin. He gives Jimmie Rodgers' No Hard Times an appropriate reading with a strong yodel inflected vocal. He returns to that form with A Little Yodel Goes A Long Way, something that many may agree with but Lilly makes it enjoyable. His mandolin playing is evident on (the excerpt from) Johnny Don't Get Drunk. He touches on gospel with Spirit (Bend Close To Me) and delivers an empowered vocal that emphasizes his prowess in deliver the soul of a song. His version of Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood's Gasoline Alley makes it sound as if it was written a hundred or more years ago. He changes pace and style with his own, more personal, song Blue Boy. As this is a recording of the aforementioned Radio show the closing song Last Chance To Dance, the title track of a previous album,has a closing voice over that disrupts the song. None-the-less this is an enjoyable album for those who will like his take on old time music. www.johnlillymusic.com