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Jim Mize

Release It to the Sky

(Fat Possum; US: 1 Sep 2007; UK: Available as import)

Fat Possum commonly means blues, but blues turn up only as an aspect of the second-last title on this set. Mize is a singer-songwriter of powerful and gritty (or hoarse) voice, with expert guitar, sometimes Hammond organ, bass and drums support, blues band instrumentation and presumable capacities. His powerful projection would, as maybe it does, carry over the talking that goes along with drinking in a bar or barn with dancing space. The scene is set by the CD container’s front of streaked grey clouds, with a shallow swag of telegraph lines, and a neon sign in which the reds (among six variously colored bold upper-case letters) shine with cloudy auras in the gloom, spelling L-I-Q-U-O-R. Cheers? Na, whatever slogan is intoned here when glasses clink together would need to be more stoical. Notre santé! and La Condition Humaine


“After the Storm” sets the pattern ... simple lyric with not much detail of verbal content to command listening. With its steady and heavy beat it could seep in between, and wash around a couple or 20 couples waltzing around a dance floor. The emotions throughout are big and broad, even barn-size, the moralisings and bold evocations of scene. Mize rather bawls the lyric of “Acadian Lullaby”. It’s not a lullaby, but a slow jive with a hefty beat, such as also marks out “Promises We Keep” and most other numbers on this set. With each separate track, it’s a matter of establishing a weight of mood, which hangs throughout every performance. 


Everything is echoey and muffled, apart from the opening verse and the quality slide guitar interludes of Charles Wyrick, single accompanist in the one blues, “Closer to You”. The blues form does allow a bit more musical development than the pop songs Mize has provided himself with for the rest of the set. He seems however, to have been more interested in sustaining mood than being clever or subtle.


“Delta Land” does have more slide guitar, steel, and greater country music feel than the rest of the slow rock (with one blues) and boomy programme. Between playing phrases in tempo, Bob Egan’s steel guitar summons from its depths a distant yowl of far winds of desolation. Nice to be inside and under the L-I-Q-U-O-R sign.
 
The CD carrier is a sturdy composition of cardboard dreadfully disadvantaged by most of the text being printed in bold bright vermilion. That unhappy hue blends so well with the battleship grey background of the interior as to threaten anyone specially curious about personnels on respective numbers with serious eyestrain.

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