By Mike Joyce
Friday, July 5, 2013
Recorded on the fly during a brief British tour, Bill Kirchen’s new album, “Seeds and Stems,” isn’t a concert recording. But it’s easy to overlook that, especially when the guitarist/singer--songwriter, bassist Maurice Cridlin and drummer Jack O’Dell are busy reinvigorating concert favorites with a mix of hot licks, honky--tonk humor and rockabilly verve. All that’s missing is a throng of cheering fans.
There’s a lot to cheer about, too, much of it vibrantly animated by Kirchen’s twang--centric virtuosity. Sure, longtime followers won’t be surprised when “Hot Rod Lincoln” takes a parade route that gives Kirchen a chance to pay tribute to myriad influences, from Buck Owens to Iggy Pop, but that doesn’t make the ride any less enjoyable.
On the other hand, Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” laced with sliding double stops, is a welcome reminder of Kirchen’s soulful side, and it’s not the only one. “Down to Seeds and Stems Again” and “Mama Hated Diesels” qualify as well. “Womb to the Tomb,” a ghost--trucker tale, benefits from a slow, wonderfully evocative take.
“Seeds and Stems” isn’t strictly a trio affair. Other performers ---- notably keyboardist Austin de Lone and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen ---- play a role. But the fundamental sound is lean, loose and about as live as studio sessions get, right down to the amusing bonus track coda, “Talkin’ About Chicken.”
Bill Kirchen album review: ‘Seeds and Stems’
The fundamental sound is lean, loose and about as live as studio sessions get.