Deering And Down
Coupe De Villa
When I last visted the mysterious world of Skagway, Alaska’s The Rev Neil Down on his American Friend CD, his tasty hooks and slightly off-center — and sometimes dark — sense-of-humor were supplemented by the talents of a couple of pretty heavy-hitters. It was heavy with some very experienced musicians and it made for a rock and roll album that would stand up pretty well alongside some of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s earlier offerings. The flavor was somewhat derivative — in a good way — but American Friend was all The Rev, and in my mind, it was a man’s rock and roll record.
Coupe De Villa is a bit different. While The Rev still serves up some mighty fine guitar playing and offers up a number of his own compositions, The Rev leaves the vocals and about half of the songwriting to 19-year-old Lahna Deering.
Deering had been a follower of The Rev for a number of years and had gigged with him locally in Skagway, sometimes in clubs where — due to her age — she had to be accompanied by her mother. Don’t let her age fool you, though. The girl doesn’t write bubblegum pop. The subject matter can be dark — as is the case of the abused woman in “Room 101.”
The teaming of Deering with Down allows Down an opportunity to explore some different dimensions of his work. Some of his work was written for a woman’s voice, and it might not have seen the light of day for a good while had he not allowed Deering this opportunity.
The talents of these two mesh very well. It’s sorta reminiscent of a Lindsay Buckingham/Stevie Nicks or Buddy and Julie Miller collaboration. Some hard-line Americana fans may cringe at this last comparison, but I stand behind it. I consider The Rev one of the best undiscovered guitar players out there. He knows how to put the tension and release in the right places and he knows when to play and when not to. Oddly though, my favorite guitar part on this CD isn’t on one of his own compositions. It’s on Deering’s “I Need a Change.” The hook in this song is sorta reminiscent of the hook in “Born on the Bayou.” It’s one of those parts that just stick in your head all day long. “Prophets Of Doom” — another offering here — turned out to be rather timely if the wake of 9/11.
Visit the Rev. Get a sprinkling or a full-immersion. You’ll leave feeling better.
Burnbarrel Records: http://www.burnbarrelrecords.com