Mark Stuart Songs From A Corner Stage

In the past, Stuart has backed Freddy Fender and Steve Earle, and is currently playing guitar in his wife, Stacey Earle's band. Songs From A Corner Stage takes a few listens to fully reveal itself, but once it does there's a wealth of worthwhile music to be found. The ten originals blur the lines between folk, country, blues and soul. "Girl From Lousian'" is an old-timey sounding song with a New Orleans shuffle beat. It's a sprightly love song to Stacey. "Gonna Love Me Someday" is swampy soul with a bridge that sounds like the vintage Hi Records soul of Al Green, especially when Stuart raises the pitch of his vocals. Stacey provides a sexy background counter-vocal that consists entirely of one word, "Someday," and a series of moans. The slightly hoary tale of a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and her Daddy's displeasure, is central in "Old Money," a Springsteen-esque song built on guitar and harmonica. Despite the timeworn story, it has a passion and vigour that, along with a couple of spoken asides, make it the best track on the LP. Almost as good is "When Katey Sings," the disc's seven-minute closing track; its Southern gothic resonance is underscored and heightened by an eerie mandolin. The band plugs in for some gutty Memphis country soul in "Small Photograph" and Mark sings the hell out of it for good measure, while "Boss Is Watchin'" is a choogling prison road gang song that owes a debt or two to John Fogerty. This is one worth sticking with long enough for it to kick in. (Gearle)