Mark Bates 'Down The Narrow' Self-release

That Bates only cover here is a version of Townes van Zandt says a lot about his aspirations and intentions. It's a pretty good interpretation too. His own songs are good too. That he has the talent Duke Levine on board suggest that Levine thinks so too. Bates posses a voice that does his songs justice and a way with words. His songs as delivered can loosely be described as Americana and beyond. Some of the songs make hard choices. Go On is about leaving while the final track Death Sucks is fairly self explanatory. But the song itself is delivered with not a little humour and a little touch of New Orleans. Other songs start for an equally downbeat premise but are delivered with some panache. A Drunkard's Holiday would be one such song. The other songs are equally full of nuances and angles. The playing and production are, throughout, a perfect match for bates singular take on life. Shotgun With The Devil has a banjo to give the songs a certain mood while the songs expands and illuminates the unsettling nature of the song. Down The Narrow is an album of fairly wide open music and an one that is a strong listening experience for those with a broader view of roots music but one worth the effort to discover. Judging from this I begin to wonder if he's any relation to Norman.