Album Review: True Native by Tony McLoughlin

Album Review: True Native by Tony McLoughlin

Hot damn, Blood On Blood will wake you from any slumber or funk. No quarter is given as we hear about “blood on blood in the darkest night.” It’s a tale of outlaws in the Badlands. There is Springsteenian storytelling and delivery, and much for fans of Dire Straits in the deep voice and resolute pacing. 

A rolling stone, a loving kind, an outlaw, and a child of God are just some of the descriptors given. The one that’s worthy of the title is Flying Bird. The key traits embodied are freedom, song and observation. 

The Colour Of Spring leaves the desert. It’s jaunty and loved up. While the protagonist still walks the night, love light guides him home. 

The title track True Native has a Springsteen sound vocally, rattling and shuffling instrumentation, and a stroll through American lands and history. It skirts anachronistic language and idealism though. 

Photo by Christine Simpson

Sharp electric guitars and a honky-tonk tempo carry a traditional blues rock number, but it’s still set in the Western Plains. We get some sense of the wanderer’s motivation: “I’m only running from you.” While it showcases some gnarly solos, the storytelling of the previous songs make us eager for some of the backstory. Instead we get a “that’s how it is/that’s how it goes” brush off. 

Treeline marries latter-day Americana-Springsteen vocals with a whimsical look at nature. 

Photo by Deone Jahnke

We careen from pedal steel to moody blues rock and a vocoder effect. The declaration “zero” comes in full force but echoed. It’s the apogee of “a lonely cry and a lonely tear I could not hide.” The refrain becomes Below Zero as things get progressively worse for the protagonist.

Next up is a gentle lounge shuffle cover of Butch Hancock’s If You Were A Bluebird which offers intriguing, atypical metaphors. Try “if you were a train stop, the conductor would sing low,” for example. 

Mercury finishes the short album with one final low register song over a simple fingerpicked progression accented with harmonica. 

This short record is a curious mix of brooding and jaunty. McLoughlin’s seventh album was produced by renowned veteran guitarist Philip Donnelly (John Prine, Everly Brothers, Nanci Griffiths, Donovan, Townes Van Zandt).

True Native is out now and available through Tony McLoughlin’s website. 

Concert Review: Striking Matches and Tyler Rich

October 23, 2019
The Garage, London

“I’m saying it: this is our favourite place to play in the whole world”

Many bands say things like that; somehow every crowd is their favourite crowd. Here, it seemed like Striking Matches actually meant it. They were playing a Country Music Week headline show in front of a rapt, rapturous crowd, including a hardcore of front-row fans who were following their tour around the country to show support.

Justin Davis called it early: “I know it’s gonna be the kind of night when we go all out.” To underline the fact, his jacket came off after just one song – a sure sign of meaning business!

Realistically it’s far too hot to play guitar *like that* in layers. Sarah Zimmerman had it right all along with a stunning catsuit leaving her arms free to slay the slide guitar in Retrogade, Medicine…pretty much everything! No wonder. If we could play slide like that, we’d be breaking it out for Happy Birthday!

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