Brian McDade

Love Bayou

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With a title like Love Bayou and the soulful, rootsy rock sounds contained in the album, it makes you think that Brian McDade is a son of the American South. But he actually comes from the other side of the Atlantic. Scotland, to be precise. McDade did live, however, in the United States for a number of years and holds an obvious affection for American roots music. His smooth blend of blues, soul, country, and rock brings to mind another American music lover from the British Isles, Van Morrison. McDade's enchanting "Paris," in fact, would shine on any Morrison record. In this fond reminiscence of a love affair, he memorably evokes Paris' romantic qualities. Lost love and lost opportunities course through the entire album. The opening number, the soul-grooved "Houselights," details a "fallen star" sadly living on his memories. Elsewhere, McDade looks back at short-lived relationships that he can't shake. Two of his better efforts, "Blue Moon Mississippi Girl" and "The Night You Lit Up the Blues" marvelously conjure up both a sense of physical place and emotional loss. For the most part, McDade and his band (which includes former Amazing Rhythm Aces Jeff Davis and Barry Burton as well as talented Nashville sidemen Michael Webb and Bryan Owings) settle into an enjoyably laid-back mid-tempo groove. Occasionally a slow ballad does grow a little colorless as on the slight "Byrd," which sounds like an average James Taylor tune. McDade wisely offers several strong change-of-pace numbers: the Bakersfield-style country shuffle "Promises," the funky rocker "Two Hoots," the Tex-Mex-tinged "Santa Anna Winds" and "People in Grass Houses," which rivals Robert Earl Keen's trademark tales of romantic misadventure. Over the course of this album, McDade wins over listeners with his easygoing music and his warm, friendly vocals. This 50-something Scotsman might be a construction worker by day, but this charming disc demonstrates he has a future spending his nights performing in pubs and bars on both sides of the Atlantic.

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