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Mike Ross – The Clovis Limit (Pt. 1) – Review

Released by: Taller

Release Date: 26th April 2019

Genre: Blues/Roots/Country/Americana/Folk

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Album Line-up:

Mike Ross – Vocals & Guitars
Brian Irwin – Drums, Bass on ‘Lily’
Smith Curry – Pedal steel & dobro
Andrea Young – Fiddle
Derek Randall – Fender Bass
Stevie Watts – Hammond Organ
Matt Dutot Slocum – Wurlitzer piano
Elles Bailey – Duet on ‘Pick Up Our Anchor’
James Smith – BV’s & French guitar on *
Scott Warman – Double bass on *
Geoff Ansell – Snare & sizzle on *
Ben Paley – Fiddle on *

Tracklist:

1.The Reason This Railroad
2. Young Man *
3. Ever After
4. Pick Up Our Anchor
5. Scarlet Coat
6. Blow Away
7. Lily
8. Grown In Your Garden
9. Lee Of The Bay
10. Driftwood *

The Clovis Limit (Pt.1) is the third album from blues singer/guitarist Mike Ross, which takes us on a meandering aural journey across the Atlantic to the West Coast of the USA, via the Deep South, soaking up the sounds of Nashville and Memphis along the way. A somewhat nomadic soul himself, Ross hails from Durham in the North East of England but now resides in Brighton, East Sussex where he pieces together his worldly musical offerings. Distinct nods to his Celtic ancestry can also be heard, featuring flavours of traditional Scottish and Irish folk tunes throughout.

Although Ross’ roots are very much in the Blues/Americana camp, the idea behind this record suggests it could well be a stand-out concept album, inspired by the Clovis Theory of early American migration and how the continent continuously re-populates over thousands of years. Ross takes this theory and considers the musical history woven into this type of mass migration – how travellers from Africa made their way up through Spain to Northern Europe, reaching Ireland and Scotland, who then themselves made their way across the Atlantic, taking with them the rich musical folk tales of their elders, eventually evolving into the contemporary sounds of blues, jazz, gospel, soul and country, all so strongly interwoven in his music style.

Of the Clovis Theory, Ross says “The enrichment perpetuated by such migration is a huge source of inspiration to me and underlines how essential the free movement of people and ideas around the globe is to our continued evolution as a species. Presenting an albums worth of songs (that I wrote all over the world) to musicians from different nations and cultures and recording them in the USA is my way of continuing this tradition”.

In another serendipitous twist, Ross has also taken leverage from “The Peripheral”, a 2014 novel from science fiction writer William Gibson, where two worlds (one in small-town rural America and the other in post-apocalyptic London) connect and reshape the past. The album title takes its name from the shop in the book on Portobello Road, The Clovis Limit, which deals exclusively in Americana.

Ultimately recorded at the Monster Studios in Nashville, followed by some tweaking back at his UK home, the album features some renowned musical talent, including Ben Paley on fiddle (son of the legendary Tom Paley, one of the great figures of the American folk revival) and Matt Slocum from The Magpie Salute on Wurlitzer piano. Produced by Canadian multi-instrumentalist Brian Irwin, who also lends his drumming skills to the album and is responsible for the bassline on the track “Lily”.

“The Reason This Railroad” is a melancholic opening with tinges of Clapton and vocals not unlike Tom Petty, minus the gravelish tones. “Young Man” takes a swinging turn with a shuffling 1920’s jazz twist featuring double bass and gypsy fiddle. Then comes “Ever After”, a country ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Steve Earle record. “Pick Up Our Anchor” then wakes you up with its dramatic entrance, a soulful duet featuring the delectable harmonies of upcoming Bristolian blues songsmith Elles Bailey. Ross states The Black Crowes as one of his musical influences and the essence of their sound can certainly be heard in the drawling “Grow In Your Garden”. Next up is heavily folk fuelled “The Lee Of The Bay” which is definitely the stand-out track of the album for me. Ending with the gently floating “Driftwood” which I imagine would be the perfect accompaniment to the end of a whiskey fuelled night in a hazy Southern small-town bar.

What Mike Ross sets out to achieve in making this album, is a rich amalgamation of old sounds brought to the listener with fresh unpretentious contemporary tunes. In this he certainly succeeds. A must for any modern Americana lovers.

Ratings: 7/10

Written by: Caroline Blood

My Global Mind – Contributor

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