Simply put, one night after a gig in 2002, New Orleans songwriter/guitarist Grayson Capps and Tom Marron, who plays violin and harmonica, sat on two armless chairs across from one another with two microphones -- one for Capps' voice and one for his guitar -- and recorded these ten songs live. A number of them have appeared on Capps' records since then in "finished" form, and the rest we've never heard. That said, there is something about the clarity and crackling late-night energy of these sides as they come down the wire that puts you in that shotgun flat with the two performers. Capps has nothing to prove here, and these performances come right from the gut, without the benefit of window dressing. But then again, anyone who has seen him live knows he doesn't need any. This is music that comes head on; the songs are drunk with emotion, and a raw, blood and guts immediacy and urgency; it's as if they were coming to him in the white heat of the moment. "Slidell" is as intimate, beat, and downtrodden as they come. Its protagonist has nowhere to go but up. The rambling dark night of the soul in "Graveyard" offers the straight-up, unflinching hoodoo that melds the Old Testament spirit of warning and retribution to modern-day grief, hopelessness, and the restless spirit that is wired tight into Mannon's violin whine and Capps' rambling, stuttering guitar. It is mirrored and refracted against the vulnerability and tenderness in "Mermaid." This is a love song based on desperation and need more than pretty romance, which,, of course, makes the song all the more beautiful. Townes Van Zandt understood the ghosts and grinning shadows that haunt these songs, he may have been more savvy at detaching from them and reporting them safely to the listener but they killed him in the end. Capps' first-person wail is more believable and doesn't afford us the comfort of third-person removal. You are being told these bent morality stories of terror and depression as if they are coming from beyond the margin; they wind themselves into the lives of cities, towns, and homes, not only as hard luck tales, but as poetry filled with the bloody glory and taut acceptance of real life on the bottom. These Songbones, as Capps calls them, are downright scary, true whether or not they're lies; they come pouring out of his fingers and mouth from the other side of midnight to hit you where you live, breathe, and weep. All killer; no filler.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek