Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Beaucoup Blue = U.S.A.?

September 10, 2009

Somehow I didn’t realize how much traffic I would run into driving on a major highway on Labor Day weekend. But that’s why I’m extra grateful that I was introduced to the relaxing yet engaging Americana blues of Beaucoup Blue.

Beaucoup Blue is Philadelphia duo David and Adrian Mowry, a father/son team that play mainly steel and slide guitar, respectively. Their latest release, Free to Fall, made a wonderful companion for me while inching across flat Oklahoman plains, stuck in a situation that very easily could have been fodder for road rage.

It’s not just the novelty of the band being centered around a father and son, although this is interesting in itself. And it’s not just that the two clearly have a strong handle on songwriting, although this certainly doesn’t hurt. What makes Free to Fall really special is its pure and simple “Americanness.”

Songs like the opener “Delta Rain” evoke a country/folk/bluegrass/blues sensibility that sounds traditional and original at the same time. References to places in America abound throughout the album, but even more than this, it’s the “down home,” honest, twangy and rich sound that paints a picture of the country.

Both father and son have earnest and soulful voices that further enhance the already rich instrumentation. But when joined by the aptly-named Melody Gardot in the pretty ballad “Bluer than the Midnight Sky” and by the female group Red Molly in “Oh America” and “Free to Fall,” the result is nothing short of beautiful.

“Oh America” puts a new spin on the traditional “America the Beautiful,” adding a knee-slapping beat and wonderfully satirical lyrics like: “Purple mountains majesty/ above the fruity plains/ sell it for a billion bucks/ and buy your own jet plane. Beautiful for spacious skies and amber waves of grain/ put a casino in the middle/ do an Eagle Dance for rain.”

Other highlights include “By Your Side” and “Free to Fall,” which both exude the same earnestness and “Americanness” found throughout.

So while Beaucoup Blue made me look at the (slowly moving) green fields around me in a calmer light, Free to Fall would really make for a great listen anytime.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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