Ron Lindsay “Americelt Union” (Independent 2005)
Singer songwriter classics revisited with a lace of Celtic cream. The omens weren't good. An album of cover versions in what seemed to be an ambient Celtic stylee. Ron Lindsay has teamed up with producer John Wooler (26 Grammy nominations and six time winner) to cover classic tracks from the 60's and 70's. These include Rod Stewart (Mandolin Wind), Roy Orbison (Only the Lonely), Nick Drake (Northern Sky), Van Morrison (Into the Mystic) and John Martyn (May You Never & Over the Hill) and supplemented by a couple of self penned tracks which are - probably understandably - the weakest on the album. The fact that most of the covers don't stray too far from the originals is a strangely comforting factor. But not all the tracks are satisfactory. 'Young at Heart' may well not have deviated from the original, but I never liked that in the first place, but on the whole this album works. A Celtic version of 'Mandolin Rain' doesn't sound too off the wall even as a matter of principle but if Rod had originally done it this way it would probably have bombed. Perhaps Celtic music is now more widely appreciated, but this is a great example of subtle celtic flavouring bringing to life what was previously seen as a simple pop song.
Barbara Orbison, the late singers wife, requested Lindsay to record celtic influenced demos of Orbisons songs, and 'Only the Lonely' works very well. Lindsay wisely makes the decision not to try and get all the way up to those really difficult high notes that only a handful of singers (including Orbison) can get away with, and the song is all the better for it. All tracks have been recorded using blends of acoustic roots, contemporary folk and the use of country instruments such as fiddle, dobro, mandolins, accordians and uillian pipes. Some stellar musicians are also employed to play them. David Immergluck (Counting Crows), Steve Hodges (Tom Waits Band), Jeff Turmes (Fabulous Thunderbirds) and Kathleen Keane all make appearances and their quality performances bring this album up to a higher level. This album is loaded onto my iPod and it will help to bring these songs to a newer audience. I for one never thought I'd be thinking of digging out 'Every Picture Tells A Story' 34 years after it was released to see what other gems it holds.
Date review added: Saturday, May 28, 2005
Reviewer: Phil Edwards
Related web link: Americelt Union web site