Once again your rockin’ writer felt the need to resurrect his “Listen Again” series. For those of you just joining us, the “Listen Again” series is a series in which we revisit albums that for one reason or another didn’t receive the attention or acclaim they deserved when they were originally released. Whether it was the recording was ahead of its time, broke away from the artist’s usual style, was poorly publicized or initially misunderstood, the “Listen Again” series urges music fans to listen again. This time we revisit singer-songwriter Anne McCue’s 2010 album Broken Promise Land.
On this ten-track release McCue leads the way on guitar, vocals, keys and vibes. She’s backed by an assortment of other artists including: former Midnight Oil bassist Bones Hillman, ex-Wilco drummer Ken Coomer, trumpeter Scott M. Huff, saxophonist Jim Hoke and Mike Esser on tambourine and shaker. The album opens on perhaps her strongest track yet “Don’t Go To Texas (Without Me)” which features Jess Leary on guitar and is very vaguely reminiscent of The Yardbirds.
The next number is “Ol’ Black Sky”. It’s got an almost spooky edge to it and McCue’s vocals have a foreboding undertone. It’s a real slow burner.
It’s followed by “Lonesome Child”. This is a stellar tune that’s highlighted by a strong bass line. It is also the first of several cuts that betray McCue’s fondness for roots rock.
“The Lonely One” is next. This features guitarist Jess Leary and was co-written with J. Visser and Kerr. It’s perhaps all too quickly overshadowed by the “Critic’s Choice”–the slow-burning “God’s Home Number”. Next to the radio friendly lead-in, this non-McCue-penned piece just plain works.
Another roots rock-inflected cover is “Cruisin’ Paradise (Tenerife)”. This is a kick-back, beach track focused on one of The Canary Islands. The title track, “Broken Promise Land”, also was co-written with Leary and includes his guitar work and backing vocals, Geoff Sprung on bass and Todd Jewell on drums. It’s got a blues undertone to it and is yet another example of McCue’s in-depth writing.
Leary returns on guitar and vibes on a trippy cover of Ameila White’s “Motorcycle Dream”. The ninth number is the ballad “The Old Man’s Talkin’”. Leary provides more noteworthy guitar and Kerr sings backing vocals. This is apparently about a gal who freezes to death on her way to see her guy because she didn’t listen to the old man’s warnings.
The closing cut is “Rock’n’Roll Outlaw” includes an encore by Leary (guitar), Sprung (bass) and Jewell (drums). McCue makes this cover cut her own by once more musically taking on a new persona. Overall, the disc includes impressive blues-guitar riffs and alluring, Lucinda Williams-like lead vocals. In McCue’s words this “cosmic biker rock” release is definitely “a bit dirty, a bit rockin’, a bit swampy and bit bluesy, with a touch of mysteriousness to it.”
Your crusty chronicler definitely recommends this record. Hope you’re listening, folks, because “The Old Man’s Talkin’.” If you’ve never listened to Anne McCue’s Broken Promise Land, listen to it. If you’ve already listened to it . . . listen again.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.