DAVE ALVIN AND JIM­MIE DALE GIL­MORE

Downey To Lub­bock Hugely im­pres­sive link-up of Amer­i­can past masters

UNCUT - - New Albums - ROb HuGHeS

Dave Alvin and Jim­mie Dale Gil­more first met while gig­ging with Tom Rus­sell nearly 30 years ago, since when they’ve been on buddy-buddy terms. But the no­tion of record­ing to­gether only oc­curred to them once they’d un­der­taken a joint tour of the US last year. The re­sult of their labours is the in­vig­o­rat­ing Downey To Lub­bock, a record that speaks to both a life­time of shared ex­pe­ri­ence and the mu­sic that in­spired them in the first place. Reared in the Cal­i­for­nian sub­urb of Downey, Alvin’s love of roots-rock saw him move through The Blasters, X and The Knit­ters, prior to go­ing solo in the late-’80s. The Lub­bock-reared Gil­more, by con­trast, had been a char­ter mem­ber of The Flat­lin­ers (along­side Butch Han­cock and Joe Ely) be­fore shift­ing to Austin and strik­ing out alone around the same time. Their ca­reers had ac­tu­ally in­ter­sected much ear­lier at LA folkspot The Ash Grove, where Gil­more heard Light­nin’ Hop­kins do “Buddy Brown’s Blues”. One of 10 cov­ers here, in full elec­tric throt­tle with yam­mer­ing pi­ano, the song is an ex­am­ple of the duo’s love of old-school blues and toxic rock’n’roll, with a lit­tle R&B on the side. They bring all three to a head on the ir­re­press­ible ti­tle track, which finds them swap­ping verses while set­ting out their own mythol­ogy. “I’ve got a loud Stra­to­caster that can blow any road­house down,” sings Alvin, his voice rich and sonorous; “I’m an old Flat­lander…West Texas wind blows through my veins,” coun­ters Gil­more, his tones as wiz­ened as those of Wil­lie Nel­son.

The al­bum’s other orig­i­nal is more sober, Alvin imag­in­ing a meet­ing be­tween two icons of the old fron­tier on “Billy The Kid And Geron­imo”. Both are wanted men for dif­fer­ent rea­sons, guided by sep­a­rate moral codes, but, as Geron­imo ad­mits with some bit­ter­ness, rec­on­ciled to the same end. Nes­tled among the in­ven­tive vari­ants of Steve Young, Woody Guthrie and more, it au­gurs well for the fol­low-up ef­fort that Alvin has al­ready hinted at.

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