Winter Warmings. January 20, 2011 by Paul Kerr
Some more of the sounds that pitched up in the dying, snowlashed days of 2010. A mellow bunch for the most part although room for some fine honky tonkin’.
First up is the appropriately named Rain Perry (well it rains a lot here in winter) with Internal Combustion. Raised by a somewhat wayward hippie father following her mother’s death when Perry was aged just seven (a lifestyle she used as material for a previous album and play) and affected by rheumatoid arthritis which meant she had to give up guitar, she has nevertheless surmounted these obstacles to produce a very fine album indeed. Ably assisted by producer Mark Hallman (who plays several instruments as the Congress House Band on the album) Perry’s songs are very much in the hallowed singer songwriter tradition. Wordy, elaborate, reminiscent of masters such as Randy Newman, Rickie Lee Jones, Dory Previn and John Prine. The music has, for the most part a warm, sultry feel with well-nuanced horns, organ and even at times a sexy slippery
seventies funk feel. It’s hard to pick out any favourites here as the album as a whole feels just, well, nice and perfectly formed. There are three covers with her version of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s get It On perhaps the one fly in the ointment. Although her delivery of this iconic song is fine the original is just too closely identified with its author. No problem with her cover of Bob Segar’s Till It Shines which is glorious. Paul Simon’s Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog after The War is also given a fine rendition and it’s Simon’s mid career style which perhaps best describes Perry’s own muse. The opening song The Compartmentalised Thing could easily sit on a Simon album as could the funky slink of So You’re The Muse. Elsewhere Perry uses tapes from the Bethel Tabernacle church she attended in her infancy to add colour to the Muscle Shoals sound of Next Best Thing, a powerful indictment delivered with gusto. However Keanuville which portrays a fanatical devotion to Mr. Reeve (almost like an aural equivalent of Scorsese’s The king of Comedy) shows that Perry has a fine, dark sense of humour, something that is carried on to the liner notes which are entertaining to read. So a very fine album and well recommended.