Born in Bristol England, Jimmy Lee is a multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter debut album give us a clue as to his influences having previously performed tributes to Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly and Blues Brothers as examples of his previous activity. You’ll also hear echoes of Donovan, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens and Leonard Cohen in the mix, although he doesn’t sound like any of them. In fact, on his debut solo album, Broken, there is folk, country and some tasty blues that show his (mainly) solo talents on instruments and vocals.
The opening track, Lonesome Frail and Blue, is one with a wash of country blues through it; slow paced, it has bounce and the slide is real quality with a short harp solo to illuminate the middle section….pity that slide didn’t have a solo for an hour or so!
The title track is very Dylanesque in structure with a lyrical message more upbeat than the title suggests; the electric guitar phrasing tends to be in the background but, listen closely and it meshes perfectly with Jimmy’s acoustic picking.
Shadows of the Past is countrified and I hope you have your ‘ye-ha’s’ ready to join in the barn dance…the harp is good and the slide adds texture and even sounds like a fiddle and lap steel at times. Whilst Friend is about an absent friend and is slow, melancholy and has a suitably mournful harp solo too.
Old No 7 Blues lifts the spirits however with a ‘full band’ effort as country blues provides a bouncier, banjo accompanied (a much-underrated instrument when used well, like here) and with brushed drums that sound like a washboard that fits well. Cane Of Shining Silver is a storytelling troubadour masterclass a la Donovan: there’s nice acoustic work behind the tale of busking and hustling.
Torn Down the Middle, Ghost in Blue Jeans and Faded Torn Dream follow similar patterns of Dylan and Donovan but individuality…especially with the slide added to the latter. Donna’s Story is a continuation too, but with a much different storyline and, at last, a short picked acoustic solo of feeling and skill. Truth Be Told picks up the pace, thankfully, although staying with the Dylan feel and storytelling knack.
Easy Way Out starts with whistling…something usually destined to put me off (yes, even on the Scorpions) and, to me, it brings nothing even if it’s supposed to be joyous…might be just me but the upbeat song has a definite charm. Cosmic Wheels is a languid, dreamy song with some genius piano and (I think) bowed upright bass to give an ethereal atmosphere.
The final track, ¾ths Drunk, is a tale of perpetual conflict and holds the best and biggest surprise…an electric guitar solo (of sorts) that lifts this to a soft rock song and the best of the bunch for me.
Far from my normal choice of listening, I couldn’t fail to be impressed by Jimmy’s skills with voice, instrument and, significantly, words…his is a world of good and bad memories; of times when reflecting on life is good thing as well as the occasional loss.
Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen for the storytelling backed by a skilful mix of folk, country and underlying blues.
Lonesome Frail and Blue
Shadows Of The Past
Old No 7 Blues
Cane Of Shining Silver
Torn Down The Middle
Ghost In Blue Jeans
Faded Torn Dream
Truth Be Told
Easy Way Out
Jimmy Lee – vocals, guitar, harmonica, ukelele, drums
Graham J Nicholls – guitars, banjo, bass
Pete Gill – piano
Joe Allen – upright bass
Recorded and mastered by Nicholas Dover at Canyon Sound Studios in Bristol.
( A surprising artist this time from iTunes…Jimmy Nail! Yes, the Jimmy Nail from Auf Wiedersehen Pet, the brilliant Spencer and Crocodile Shoes: however he is part of my collection from a CD I bought that had one song by Bernie Marsden on it and, to keep my ‘every track he’s ever done’ collection intact, it had to be acquired. It was the soundtrack to an unexpectedly good film called Stir Crazy with Billy Connolly and the wonderful Bill Nighy in the cast too…an interesting excursion.)