OLD MAN LUEDECKE – TENDER IS THE NIGHT
2012 – True North
This is Chris ‘Old Man’ Luedeckes’ fifth album since his 2003 debut ‘Mole in the ground,’ with every single one of them being essential listening for anyone with a love (or even a liking!) for modern troubadour music with an old timey feel. There was also a just as good, if different, seven song e.p. last year with the excellent string band ‘Lake Of Stew’ that is well worth seeking out.
His vocals are warm, clear and friendly and in a style that often sounds as if his tongue is in his cheek, a comment
that can be applied to most of his recordings as well as live performance. I’m guessing that whilst he takes making music seriously, the same is not applied to himself. As on his previous album 2010s ‘My hands are on fire and other love
songs,’ the songs are highly personal, although on that tremendous recording there was one cover, but on this he has written everything. He has the ability to take small snippets from life and come at them from so many different loosely connected angles, often with a thin layer of metaphor, that he is able to write complete songs, even about fleeting emotions and moments. Most, it seems, are taken from his own experiences and reactions to the situations that he finds himself in, particularly as the travelling musician and as a consequence a strong feeling of homesickness. They are songs that on the face of it appear simple, enhanced by the just as simple sparse instrumentation, and yet they are almost certainly anything but, with their multi layers and an at times
underlying feeling of tension that all is not well in the world inhabited by the story teller.
The all acoustic instrumentation is perfect for these old timey flavoured, modern folk songs with Chris Luedecke himself playing banjo, guitar and mandolin, with the tasteful drumming courtesy of Kenny Malone and bass from the award winning Mike Bubb. The album gets under way with Kingdom Come, a tremendous song that speaks about the overblown ‘celebrity’ status often placed on musicians whether they want it or not, the way life alters and real friends who are there through good times and bad, regardless of where life leads you, even if you are a musician! It is an excellent sumnation of his general philosophy that he will continue securely on his own path irrespective of what goes on around him, a weighty mixture but made less so by his ability to pick out the important points and ensure they are not lost in too much metaphor. There is a tale of someone who experiences nothing but bad luck in Jonah And The Whale, followed by Tortoise And The Hare, a fiddle, banjo and bass accompanied song about someone whose attempts to leave the rat race are thwarted at every turn! Little Stream Of Whiskey is another highlight on an album of highlights that has a ‘hillbilly’ feel thanks to it’s slow moody fiddle and banjo on a sad lonesome tale that has a feeling of hopelessness, something the‘Old Man’ seems able to summon at will. The sheer joy of being in love is merilly covered on one song, conversely, another on which it doesn’t always run smoothly and yet another on which he can’t decide if it is worth the hastle to fall in love! No doubt most can relate to at least one of these tales!
This is an album that I imagine anyone who has a copy will play over and over, knowing that these little vignettes of life will gradually reveal more emotional depths with pretty much every listening session, not harmed by the excellent melodies, warm vocals and expert playing. Terrific album!