Blue Sky Thinkin’
Flying Machine Records
Originally from Australia, now safely at home in Nashville, Anne McCue began her musical career as the guitarist for the chart-topping Aussie group Girl Monstar. After a few years she migrated to the States, and an opening slot on a Lucinda Williams tour brought her to the ears of American listeners, and from then she’s been on a roll for her songwriting and stellar guitar work. I got this months ago, and have been spinning it quite a bit since then because it’s 12 cuts of sheer deliciousness.
McCue is known as a “alt-country” girl, but Blue Sky Thinkin’ finds her looking further back to the jazz age of the 1920s and such with cuts as the opener, “Dig Two Graves” where McCue’s bouncy guitar is contrasted by the bewitching violin of Deanie Richardson (who is on fire, Stephane Grappelli-like, throughout the album). The clarinet of Jim Hoke opens “Things You Left Out in the Rain”, and McCue’s vocals remind one of the great Cat Russell. She’s won kudos for her guitar work, and the nifty Mississippi John Hurt stylings of “Spring Cleaning in the Wintertime” and “Cowgirl Blues” are sharp and crisp acoustic showcases for her great touch. Dave Alvin joins her on “Devil in the Middle”, which McCue wrote with Nashville great Dave Olney and John Hadley, but sounds like something that Cab Calloway used to belt out years ago.
All in all this is one of the most assured and pleasing things I’ve heard in years, full of swinging sass and deft guitar work. Very fine indeed.