B-BOY: Album 2006
"The artist's name is Will Kimbrough. I've never heard of him before, but then again, I don't really have my ear to the ground for new music. The title of the album is "Americanitis." It's on Daphne Records, which I have also never heard of before... probably with good reason.Well, I had a few questions. Who is this clown-hat and what makes him so god damned special? These are the kinds of questions I ask myself constantly by the way. I always felt I should be a detective due to my style of in depth questions and fantastical usage of the Google search engine. So I was off to find out about Will KimbroughIf you've ever heard of John Prine... It's like John Prine, lyrically, except that it hits harder. It's harder musically, too.I'd like to nominate the song "Less Polite" as the (un)Official Blasphemes Anthem.The refrain..."I'm tryin' to be less polite; I'm sayin' what I really think:The President's a fool, I don't wanna get up early and I wish I had a good, stiff drink.""
First step, who is this clown-hat? This is an important first step. One cannot make too many judgements for themselves lest they be tricked into liking a less than stellar performer. What do I mean? Well, let's say you are a tremendous fan of Living La Vida Loca, your whole existence for the last few days has been jamming to that song. Then you find out Ricky Martin was a member of Menudo!! Yipes! Now you either have to give Menudo a chance or come up with a 'why he is so talented' argument for your giggling friends. You may not live it down. I had a friend Wally that got into Olympic figure skating. Never lived it down. As a detective of Rock, you must be aware of these things.
Seems our friend Mr Kimbrough is an accomplished guitar player. So good, in fact, that he has had an issue starting his own career because he is constantly supporting the less talented but more famous musicians. (I am looking at you Jimmy Buffet). Facts here.
OK, good start. Nothing to be worried or horrified of. Next, what makes him so goddamned special? Well, many reviewers bring up his guitar prowess and song writing abilities. Sounds good to me, a fan of Tom Waits, Steve Earle, Steve Poltz, and the Clash.
So what have I learned so far? Not to be afraid of digging something bad or embarrassing. In another post someday I will tell you about my brief love affair with TLC. So far, so good. Next step for Detective F, get the album. I subscribe to emusic and they have it. Bingo! I burn it to disc and listen to it in my car for around a week straight. It is important when you are a Rock Detective to listen to the album more than a few times. You don't want to second guess yourself. I actually did not like Rain Dogs a whole bunch the first time I heard it. For the past two decades it has been a top four album of mine. Well, this album, like a fine hat, just got better.
Americanitis starts off with "I Lie" a lazy, country-like ditty that will have you swaying and rolling and enjoying a wee touch of the finger pick before you start singing along. "I lie / Why? / Because I can / It is the pleasure and the privilege / of the richest people in this land." The sarcasm runs thick giving this groove a slight hint of papaya and honey. Most bands would have tried to get more people to pay attention to the lyrics but Will is just enjoying the ride. This, in turn, allows me to enjoy it a little more and longer myself.
The next few songs take us through a variety of styles and topics. "Life" is a straight up rocker ("I want to be a better man / but I got a short attention span") and "Grown Up Now" is a plucky old time folk singer type of song that turns out to be straight pop by the end. Seems Will was drinking and watching Scooby-Doo until after 29. "Pride" gives us a talking piece. Reminiscent of Steve Earle's "Warrior" Kimbrough talks us through the aspects of Pride that some may have forgotten with such grace and artistry that many of our politicians should directly quote it in their quest to be the sellout-in-chief. Asking when pride got taken off the list of deadly sins, WK suggests some actual reading of Jesus (and Johnny Cash).
Next is "Less Polite" quoted above by Killre as his anthem of Blasphemes is a leisurely stroll some thoughts that he is no longer going to bottle. i won't bore you a track by track review but I did want to point out that this is a politically charged album with many different types of music layered throughout. The production is superb. I think that trimming three or four songs off of it would have made it perfect. A few I had made listen to this agreed. the problem was we all wanted different songs trimmed.
My wife actually wanted "Warring Ways" trimmed. I think it is one of the best gospelish songs I have heard since Ween's "Up On The Hill"
I also very much enjoyed "Act Like Nothing's Wrong" a story song (complete with xylophone) about an executive (**cough**ENron**Cough) who gets caught and figures if he just acts like nothign is wrong all will be OK. "Act like nothing's wrong / Everything's just fine / Hold your head up high and act like / you don't really mind. / If you're terrified like me / Of terrorists and crime / Please take my advice / And act like nothing's wrong." Beautiful.
I give the album my Blasphemes - Best of the year. We will continue to argue about the theme song for this site.