Tom Russell Blood And Candle Smoke

Tom Russell Blood And Candle Smoke
Consummate singer-songwriter Tom Russell's latest effort is a departure, of sorts. After becoming smitten with Calexico's work on the I'm Not There soundtrack, the Texas transplant opted to record with them on their home turf in Tucson, AZ in hopes of capturing a similar vibe. Blood And Candle Smoke fulfils this mission, with mariachi guitars, trumpets and sparse percussion colouring all 12 tracks. Yet the focus remains on Russell's rich storytelling, which here draws from his experiences more than usual. Several tracks are reminiscences on his world travels during his youth, with "Criminology" specifically touching on touring Canada in the early '70s. While these songs have their charm, the album's best moments come when Russell steps outside of himself, as on the Nebraska-ish "The Most Dangerous Woman In America," and the Hurricane Katrina-inspired diatribe "Mississippi River Runnin' Backwards." Russell's directness can often be off-putting but Blood And Candle Smoke is his most complete album in recent memory, raising his lyricism to greater heights. (Shout! Factory)