From a man with a work ethic that would have made inventor Thomas Edison (a man who would rather take naps through the day than waste a whole night sleeping) blanch, Ginger Wildheart’s latest album is a blissed-out stroll through Americana and country music.
For longtime Ginger watchers, this should come as no surprise, given his work with Jason & The Scorchers, and the Hank Williams-like ache that permeated 2017’s elegiac Ghost In The Tanglewood. And as brilliant a solo artist Ginger can be, it’s good to see him back with a band again, even relinquishing lead vocals to Neil Ivison on a handful of tracks, including a grand reworking of Status Quo’s Dirty Water that spits happy, boundless energy.
Which is, after all, what a great country rock record should do: make you want to punch the air and holler like you were raised off the Crooked Road that runs through southwest Virginia. And then, like all good country rock, switch gears and break your heart like it was nothing more than a dry twig on a lonely forest floor that someone stood on.
Which the band manage to do at least three or four times on this record, with the kind of sickening ease that puts you in mind of what it must have been like to date Warren Beatty in the 70s and be tossed aside like so much used Kleenex. Horribly affecting is the wonderful lament of Breakout, which sits like a stone on your chest and casts a shadow like The Jayhawks once did at their impeachable best. Lately,
Always too has that wonderful tone of regret and recall and nights spent with a tumbler of whisky and a reel of memories that won’t stop flickering through your mind’s eye. While the Georgia Satellites’ Six Years Gone is given thrilling life, as Ginger explains: “It was the first song I wanted to play with the band back when this was just an idea. I became a bit obsessed with it while in LA for Lemmy’s funeral, and carried it around in my heart from then until we all congregated at the studio.”
It’s not all gloom, though. The album rattles and rocks with the excellent Wasted Times, and the simply goofy Code Of The Road wears a crooked smile.
Exultant, introspective and a joy of a record. Let the sin in.