The title and opening track (Mad World) leads you to think that this will be a concept album about the crazy times we're living in. You could be forgiven for anticipating that Eric Corne is about to give us some reasons to be cheerful.
But look closely at the album cover and you'll realise that the premise is something else. The brightly coloured kidnap lettering spelling out the title are pasted over what looks like the advertising section of a 1950s newspaper. This alerts you to the fact that contemporary references are not likely to be abundant. When you also learn that Corne is a well established producer/engineer of traditional blues and nostalgic folk/country rock, it becomes clear what kind of record this actually is.
In the aforementioned Mad World he observes . "I don't know where we're going, but I sure know where we've been" and the remainder of the tracks follow the reassuring paths of previous journeys rather than risking uncharted territory. When the future's uncertain, it is human nature to take consolation from the past and this is precisely what the 12 tracks offer.
In fairness, Corne doesn't pretend to be cutting edge and makes no secret of his feelings of disorientation towards the modern world. "There's too much pressure in this time of mine" is a line in The Gilded Age and in Pull String To Inflate he sings "It seems the future's running a little late; I'm driving backwards through a different day".
He clearly knows a lot of top notch musicians who share this point of view and his distinguished backing band here includes those who have played with artists like Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Calexico, Dwight Yoakum and Cat Power. The backing comes in the form of horns, pedal steel guitar, accordion and even a Theremin. Ridin' With Lady Luck is no frills blues rock tune featuring Walter Trout on lead guitar
Released on the label Corne founded and presides over, it's like Dylan minus the poetry or the Stones without the raunch. The album is well-described as "a patchwork of Americana" with a range of moods and musical styles.
Once these parameters and limitations are firmly established, it's a collection that is both assured and reassuring though only seldom truly uplifting.
Eric Corne's website