Townes Van Zandt - Delta Momma Blues

Townes Van Zandt
Delta Momma Blues

Released 1969 on Poppy
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 15/10/2006ce

The music of Townes Van Zandt is so spare and deadpan, sometimes after listening to one of his albums it feels like I have a mouthful of dust. Townes passed away several years ago after an inspiring career that was sidetracked by a lethal addiction to booze. While his music has many admirers he is still something of a cult artist (I guess he's not as cute as Nick Drake so Hollywood isn't interested.)

What the late John Fahey did to describe the fallout shleters of America with the instrumental, Townes Van Zandt did with quiet songs. I think his songs would have fit perfectly if they had been included on the soundtrack to the classic "Two Lane Blacktop" movie.

To describe this album I should mention Bob Dylan's "John Wesley Harding" would be the ideal starting place. It has the same down-home easiness as 1967 Dylan. The cover is classic, it shows a bemused Townes standing like a hayseed in a city street doorway, while a skid row couple makes out next to him.

The record opens with the sensational "FFV" which is a spare, moving piece about the glory days of the American railroad. "Turnstyled Junkpiled" is an amusing number that brings a touch of fun to a record that is knee deep in emptiness and pain. "Tower Song" is a heartbreaking ballad that can be a bit much to take unless your in a strong state of mind. "Come Tomorrow" is a lovely song that is both happy and sad at that same time, sort of like early Tim Buckley. "Brand New Companion" breaks the mood a bit, it's something of a lighthearted blues shuffle.

"Where I Lead Me" is a tough uptempo blues-rocker that brings to mind the great Chris Lucey (Bobby Jameson) album "Songs Of Protest & Anti Protest". The record closes with 2 knockout classics, the first "Rake" is a bum trip ballad in the vein of Love's "Signed D.C." The closing number is simply called "Nothin'", this one illustrates what was so great about Townes right down to title. Townes uses 1 word where others would use 100. The song is creepy and unsettling and brings the record to a eerie close.

Townes Van Zandt's music is no day at the beach for sure, but then life isn't either sometimes.

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