My Darling Clementine 'How Do You Plead?' Drumfire

That this album has taken so long to get released, it was recorded over two years ago, is surprising. On the other hand I can see the reaction to an album of newly written classic-style country songs written by two English singer-songwriters might be a hard sell. However it shouldn't be as this is superb. From the singing, through the songs and the exemplary playing through to the solid, warm production. This must rank as one of the best country music albums to come out of the UK and that's not to damn it with feint praise as it also stands tall against similar albums released in the US and elsewhere. The assembled players are Martin Belmont on guitar, Alan cook on pedal steel, Bob Loveday on violin, Geraint Watkins on keyboards and Bobby Irwin and Jim Russell on drums and Kevin Foster on bass. All deserve praise for the way they deliver a classic country setting for the songs of Michael Weston King and his real life partner Lou Dalgleish. While Weston King has written the majority of the songs Dalgleish is equally adept at getting the mood right. Witness her song The Other Half wherein she delivers what might be her best vocal performance here and both vocalists deliver emotional and expressive singing throughout. That both writers have absorbed their obvious love and understanding of the genre shouldn't be a surprise given their track record. This is an album that is immersed in the golden age of country music as well as having an ear to contemporary takes on the form like Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan. At the heart of these duets is an understanding of the human condition and the interaction between couples when love can go wrong and be twisted into something more malevolent and spiteful. There's also regret and recognition of weakness. But in the end it's the sound that counts and even if you don't listen too closely to the lyrics the sound here is uplifting and entertaining. It is an album that repays repeated listen and one I will return to often. I plead guilty to loving this album. All involved should be justly proud and let's hope the undoubted praise it will receive will turn into more substantial sales for this fine, well-packaged album and its accompanying lyric booklet.