Black Music Matters Festival

Paul Burch

Wire to Wire – 1997 (Dixefrog)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

CDs by Paul Burch

Paul Burch is usually identified with the collection of artists making up the current retro Nashville scene represented on the Bloodshot compilation "Nashville: The Other Side of the Alley" (which include a track from the WPA Ballclub), but while this, Burch's second release, a French import, contains its share of tunes readily identifiable as harking back to early honky tonk sounds (try "Drifting Texas Sand," or "I Am Here," or "When You Go Wrong"), Burch also goes farther afield here. Not too many classic honky tonk recordings featured sitar ("I Turned A Corner") or vibes ("Rosa Lee" and "This Time Next Year"), after all.

Yet in these forays, Burch and the Ballclub still manage to convey a remarkably antique sound and sensibility, from the opening, banjo-fuelled "Winner's Circle," to the soaring, rueful "Ring the Bell," to the western "Long Tall Glass of Water" (sweetened by the contributions of "designated Yodeler" Ranger Doug Green from Riders in the Sky), which closes the album. Featuring Burch's obscure gems of songs and the easy swing of his players - the straight steel ornamentations of Paul Niehaus and the rumbling baritone guitar of George "The Tone Chaperone" Bradfute are particular delights - Wire to Wire is aptly named, for it's a clear winner from start to finish.