While the late Blaze Foley was well-known around Austin (for both his music and his character), most music fans know him for songs written about him (Lucinda Williams' Drunken Angel
and Townes Van Zandt's Blaze's Blues
) more than for his own music. This is mainly due to the fact that Foley didn't really realize a proper album before his tragic death in 1989. Foley's old buddy, Gurf Morlix, an accomplished songwriter/instrumentalist/producer, hopefully will rectify this situation with this terrific 15-song tribute album.
Morlix's world-weary vocals suit Foley's songs, which recall John Prine's mischievousness and Townes' melancholy. The wonderfully cracked wordplay in songs like Big Cheeseburgers and Good French Fries and Clay Pigeons compare favorably to Prine's. Foley fills these tunes will colorful lines like "never had stitches but do have scars" and "I'm tired of running around looking for answers to questions I already know." Foley, however, can also craft moving laments like If I Could Only Fly (that Merle Haggard famously covered) and Oh Darlin'. In the exceptional, poignant Oooh Love, you truly feel the sense of surprise that this man has found true love.
Morlix does a fine job of letting the songs shine, bringing out all of Foley's humor and heartache. The arrangements stay on the simple side, although he turn up the electric guitar some on tracks like the brooding Down Here Where I Am and character study Small Town Hero. He also ends the album most appropriately with Cold Cold World. The song, which starts off with "I've tried for a long time but I think I can't win/I could do it all better/If I could do it again," serves as a fitting epitaph for both the album and Foley, a man who didn't find success in his own lifetime.