Listening to Luke Winslow-King's third full-length album is like taking a stroll through the artist's adopted home of New Orleans; his Bloodshot label debut is the sound of community, emotional duality,spiritualism, and lived-on-the-streets-not-stored-in-abottle historical preservation. It is the sound of rickety wooden porches on humid summer days, the grimy streets of New Orleans' neighborhoods beyond the French Quarter, the celebration and solemnity of centuries old churches and gathering places, and the anything-is-possible attitudes of smoky music halls and folk clubs.
Recorded at Piety Street Studios in New Orleans, The Coming Tide brings together Winslow-King's formal music education with a street-busking resilience, a proficiency on bottleneck slide guitar, the featured vocals (and washboard playing) of Esther Rose, and a cast of A-plus local players. The result is a vibrant amalgam of early 20th century jazz, Delta blues, American folksong, and Southern gospel.
Just as the Crescent City's famous parades and joyous second lines are known as "jazz funerals without the body," The Coming Tide asserts that while life's issues
can be dire, there's always a reason to find the silver lining. When Winslow-King and Esther Rose harmonize like tag-team town criers on the title track, it's easy to be transported in time and place. "You better come inside for the coming tide," sung amid a scurrying hi-hat/tomtom shuffle, buoyant upright bass, and languid brass line, settles the nerves and sends the crowd back home to make amends before the shit hits the fan.
Without blatantly narrating each scene in a way that other songwriters might, The Coming Tide naturally gives the listener a cinematic feeling of distinct atmospheres,
moods and the people that come with them. Rose clickclacks the washboard on "Movin On (Towards Better Days)" while an animated trombone-trumpet conversation brings to life the scandalous, noisy cabaret. "Staying in Town," a gently waltzing love story between two once-ramblers, plays like a two-minute diddy between cornmeal ads on Saturday evening AM radio. "You & Me" is a crinkled black & white snapshot of nights dancing cheek-to-cheek at the juke joint.
Later Winslow-King turns up the Texas heat on Blind Willie Johnson's "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning" and flashes his nearly vocal, rubber band bendy bottleneck slide guitar skill. The album-closer is a pleasantly unexpected, stylistically dark take on Rudy Clark's "I've Got My Mind Set On You" that leaves you wanting more.
1. The Coming Tide
2. Moving On (Towards Better Days)
3. Let 'em Talk
4. Staying In Town
5. Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning
6. You Don't Know Better Than Me
7. I've Got the Blues for Rampart Street
8. You & Me
9. I Know She'll Do Right By Me
10. Ella Speed
11. I've Got My Mind Set On You