Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Howlin’ Brothers: “The Sun Studio Session” (2013) CD Review

Ever since I first put Howl into my CD player a year ago, I haven’t been able to get my fill of The Howlin’ Brothers. They quickly became one of my favorite bands. Their most recent release, The Sun Studio Session, is an EP that was recorded on May 17, 2013 at Sun Studio in Memphis, and features six great tracks.

The CD opens appropriately enough with a cover of “Dixie Fried,” a Carl Perkins song that was released as a single on Sun Records in 1956. It was written by Howard Griffin and Carl Lee Perkins. The Howlin’ Brothers deliver a groovy back-porch folk version of the rock and roll tune, but with a vocal performance somewhat reminiscent of early Perkins. It’s a lot of fun.

“Til I Find You” is a song I absolutely love. Another version of this tune was included on Long Hard Year, and it was one of my favorites from that release. This is a sweet tune with some nice work on harmonica during the instrumental section. It has the feel of a great traditional tune, but is an original song written by Ian Craft. “I cried like rain into the sea/The waves will wash her home to me.”

“Troubled Waltz” has a somewhat darker, slower, brooding tone that is wonderful. This one begins, “I’m troubled, I’m troubled, I’m troubled all the time/Troubled in the morning, and I’m troubled at night.” I love this line: “If I make you cry, I don’t mean no harm.” They do some interesting things with the vocals on this one, particularly the way the backing vocals mix and interact with lead vocals at certain moments.

“Take Me Down” is counted off at the beginning, and I appreciate that bit of studio chatter. This song has a cool bluesy vibe, which works to make you feel damn good. “She makes me feel so good I might stay with her the rest of my life.” Absolutely.

“Charleston Chew” is one of those fun dance tunes dominated by fiddle. The fiddle kicks off the tune.  Grab a partner, and hit the floor. Or, if you’re alone, grab a beer and spin yourself around – just don’t spill your drink, because that would be sad.

The Sun Studio Session EP concludes with “Tennessee Blues,” a wonderful slow song. A version of this tune was included on Howl. The version here has more of a raw, loose feel to it, which is great. I love the combination of piano and fiddle in the instrumental section. There is a bit of studio banter at the end.

CD Track List

  1. Dixie Fried
  2. Til I Find You
  3. Troubled Waltz
  4. Take Me Down
  5. Charleston Chew
  6. Tennessee Blues

The Sun Studio Session was released on October 15, 2013, and is available on CD and as a digital download.

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