Live Reviews | 2013
15 April 2013
It only lasted half an hour, yielding six or seven songs but this was a thrilling set that said it all about Jim Dead. He is one terrific, emerging songwriter and a performer whose take on American-influenced music definitely deserves a wider audience.
The youthful Dead knows how to drill into music that could be swirling around windswept canyons or seeping out eerily into sweaty, sleazy booze joints where locals slake their thirst over a cocktail mix of roots and steely blues.
Dead is a Glasgow lad – a city not slow to appreciate country and rock – and this show, in a downstairs bar of an atmospheric pub just off Sauchiehall Street, displayed his brand of earthy, yet elegant music, most emphatically.
Riding shot gun with a red-hot electric guitar was Craig Hughes, who was playing with Dead live for only the second time though they are no musical strangers – Hughes co-produced Dead’s latest release, the terrific and moody I’m Not Lost and previously the 11-track beauty that is Ten Fires. Hughes’ noodling and edgy bottleneck fillers jostled gloriously against Dead’s doleful vocals and well-crafted lyrics, turning up the heat superbly.
When I first encountered the man from Deadsville Recording Company and his lucid and vibrant tales of the downcast and their demons, I immediately had Neil Young and the late Jason Molina’s Magnolia Electric Company vying for space in my head. Dead is his own man, though.
The music is as dark and dangerous as some parts of Glasgow in its No Mean City heyday, which is typified by Untitled from Ten Fires, a killer song with wolves and other scary things dragged out by Dead, all underpinned by Hughes’ simply brooding blues moodiness. If a better song was delivered in the whole of Glasgow this night, I’d be stunned.
Giving Up The Ghost from I’m Not Lost is more up tempo and driven with the singer’s dread spliced with unease relentless: “Going down to the river/going to lay my troubles down/shed my woes and turn around/Lord hear me pray, hear me sing/hear me swear it’s over now.” Hughes hung in there, too, relentlessly cracking and searing.
A short yet gripping performance with a long-lasting taste of sheer quality so we look forward to these dudes hitching up again next month in town.