There is a certain poignancy coming to this album as I do just hours after hearing that Chuck Berry had duck walked off this mortal coil. I wonder what he would make of the fact that here is a female artist from one London’s most hallowed musical boroughs weaving the same country, rhythm and blues and boogie-woogie threads together that he helped forge into the rock ‘n’ roll sound some 70 years earlier.
It is quite fitting therefore that to record her debut solo album she chose to head to Nashville, hole up in former Chess pressing plant with revered songwriter and producer Billy Livsey and a cast of musicians that reads like a who’s who of Music City session stars. Her London based musical vehicle, The Rabble, takes the form of a country-punk-skiffle outfit and whilst there are songs here which would easily sit in such a set, the shuffling Bad Boy and raucous opening salvo Boy From The City, there is generally something much more deft and defined at work.
It is an album steeped in American musical dreams as much as its Camden roots, Ride a Train is a soft and intimate gospel, He Put a Hook In Me is a haunted Voodoo groove and Brown Boots sits at that point where country blossomed into rock’n’roll. But it is the collision of its Old World originator and New World players that seems to make it not quite meet the conventional expectations of either the tried and tested Americana sound nor the British pastiche movement that has formed in its image.
Instead it is something new, something less geographically beholden, and why not? The world is a wonderfully cross-cultural and connected place and the music we make should reflect that. If we can have Tibetan Jazz and Moroccan Hip-Hop then Camden Country isn’t too much of a stretch is it?