The Royal Potato Family
Born from late night jam sessions at The Frog Pond in Alabama, this group has been called an Americana Traveling Wilburys, and the comparison is apt. Made up of Will Kimbrough (Will and the Bushmen, The Bis-quits, Daddy), Grayson Capps, Corky Hughes, and Sugarcane Jane — Savana Lee and Anthony Crawford — their self-titled debut sounds as if the players had been performing together all their lives. The ten tunes here are a perfect mesh of Capps’ blues and Kimbrough’s multi-instrumental talents (he plays guitar, bass, mandolin, harmonica, and banjo here, as well as writing some of the record’s most winning moments).
Grayson Capps opens the album with the wry title track, and contributes a weary and poignant “Magdalena” which is stirring in its simple grace. Capps updates his “Poison” (from his 2006 Wail & Ride album) to include the former New Orleans resident’s take on Katrina (“Drink a little poison before you die”). Kimbrough’s “Gypsy Train” and “Trouble” are infectious, but it’s his “Oh, Colorado,” written with Sara Jean Kelly and sung here by Savana Lee, that truly shines. Lee channels a bit of Emmylou Harris on the tune of longing and remembrance — “I have lost my way but I will come back to you one day” — and you wish she had the lead vocal seat for more than one song, but what a song it is.
Produced by Trina Shoemaker, (whose previous credits run the gamut from Queens of the Stone Age to Sheryl Crow and beyond), the record is a masterpiece of laid-back playing from five musicians who listen and respond to each other in a totally organic collaboration. The record ends with Anthony Crawford’s rousing “Up to the Sky” and when it’s over you wish the CD was twice as long. One hopes that this group isn’t a one-off project for the five, but whatever happens, Willie Sugarcapps is one beautiful, tuneful creation that excels on all fronts.