The Twangtown Paramours Double Down on a Bad Thing

The Twangtown Paramours Double Down on a Bad Thing

The Twangtown Paramours Double Down on a Bad Thing a great listen for pop tinged blues with plenty of variation and originality.

Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen for pop-tinged blues with plenty of variation and originality.

The Twangtown Paramours is a band built around the husband and wife team of Mike T. Lewis and MaryBeth Zamer. Based in Nashville, they have two albums to their name, both acoustic and both very different to this latest electric, 60s based blues… with the odd nod to The Beatles and a distinctly Memphis style.

Entitled Double Down on a Bad thing, we are treated to eleven tracks plus a ‘bonus track’ of (horror) a Christmas track which is a little strange for an album released in February and I will try not to let my ‘Bah Humbug’ approach colour my judgement.

Listening to the title track, I am guessing that the Blackjack betting reference is an allegory for life…sometimes a gamble, even a risky one, can pay off…or not. Set to a 60s-ish soundtrack with some clever drumming and with guitar and horns ensuring the feel is authentic and the vocal carries the great pop melody. That’s What the Blues are For is more blues, as the title suggests, with nice guitar phrasing and washes of keys over a soulful, blues vocal…the guitar and Hammond solo add colour and depth even if a bit short. Next up is a gospel blues as Talk About Peace revels in a neat percussion intro as MaryBeth supplies the entire choir. Listen to the subtle piano in the backing and the barred guitar that adds so much to a pretty standard ‘message’ song. A hint of the pair’s previous albums shows in Anyone But You, as this ballad has a hint of electric folk-rock about it, mainly because of the carefully constructed guitar parts stitching it all together. Comin’ Back is a funky, slightly bluesy and bouncy song where she may be “comin’ back, but not to you.” A nice guitar solo keeps the attention as does the backing keys. Whoa, Nellie finds Mike at the err, mike. It’s a blend of blues, country and pop and not about a horse that maintains the clever 60s modern feel.

Love is a Stranger has some nice piano and Hammond on a very 60s song that would have been a pop pickers pick…a ballad structure with a suitably emotive guitar solo. Some Other Day is a faster, poppy song that again makes a modern retro song work, and a complex yet fitting guitar solo makes it even better. I Miss Who I Thought You Were sees Mike back on vocals as the neat drum backing and piano gives it a (mild) jazz setting.

Sincerely Yours No More is a country song with hints of blues, with some great slide and lap steel putting some atmosphere into the instrumentation.

The final track proper, Alright Again, is a piano-led ballad that develops its gospel base into a powerful message. The piano and Hammond are the only instruments as MaryBeth pours her heart out and into the lyrical message.

My Gingerbread Man is the bonus, Christmas track that was released for the festivities and is included here…as I suggested, I have an aversion to Christmas songs (apart from Merry Axemas) simply because they tend toward the saccharine or the exploitative or just wrong (Bells End for example). This one is a mix of cliché and tongue in cheek smut in the best tradition…so it may not be my first choice but the lyrics certainly bring a smile even to this old miserable face! A clue: cookie and nookie rhyme.

This is a great listen when some pop-tinged blues with plenty of variation and originality is needed to lighten your day.

The Twangtown Paramours Double Down on a Bad Thing

Track listing:
Double Down on a Bad Thing
That’s What the Blues are For
Talk About Peace
Anyone But You
Comin’ Back
Whoa Nellie
Love is a Stranger
Some Other Day
I Miss Who I Thought You Were
Sincerely Yours No More
Alright Again
My Gingerbread Man

MaryBeth Zamer: vocals
Mike T Lewis: guitars, bass, vocals
Shawn Pelton: drums and percussion
Dave Keyes: B-3 (tracks 2, 5, 7, 11), piano (track 11), Wurlitzer (tracks 2, 5)
Rave Tesar: piano (track 9)
Steve Conn: piano (track 7)
Ed Alstrom: piano (track 12)
Will Barrow: organ (track 9)
Mark Deffenbaugh: Lap Steel (track 10)
Gary DiBenedetto: Pedal Steel (track 9)
Dan Nigro: baritone and tenor sax
Vinnie Cutro: trumpet 

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(iTunes took me to a strange place as, from a compilation album called Daytrippers (a four CD package I bought mainly for the rare track by Snagrom called Jonestown) I was treated to the pop perfection of Twinkle and the sad but lovely Terry.)

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