In 2010, Memphis’s famed House Of Blues Studio D was packed on to the bed of a flatbed truck and moved 200 miles to Nashville. It’s since played host to some of country music’s most glittering stars, and now it’s delivered an album by its grizzliest.
Terraplane is an album of lo-fi blues, dominated by shuffling, homespun rhythms and Earle’s sleepy drawl. The best moments aren’t the straightforward boogie tunes — some of the album sounds like a backwater George Thorogood — but on the numbers where other influences creep in.
Gamblin’ Blues comes across like a great lost Jimmie Rodgers song, while Baby’s Just As Mean As Me is a giddy duet with fiddle player Eleanor Whitmore that owes as much to ragtime as it does to country blues.
Meanwhile, The Tennessee Kid is brilliantly peculiar. It’s a spooky, spoken-word retelling of Robert Johnson’s deal with the devil, stuffed full of gothic grotesquery, and it feels like a companion piece to Jim Dickinson’s equally sinister 1972 voodoo thumper O How She Dances./o:p