Music

P.W. Long’s Reelfoot Band

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Years of living in the science fiction landscape of Detroit can break a man or it can make a phenomenal songwriter out of him. P.W. long, former lead singer and guitarist of Mule and Wig before that, didn’t break; he created an unusual thing of beauty. Reelfoot began with P.W. playing solo acoustic shows and is now a triumvirate of talent. The astounding former Jesus Lizard drummer, Mac McNeilly, whose comparisons to John Bonham are no joke, brings not only his amazing skills, but also a little-known singing ability to the band, rounding out songs with precise and subtle harmonies. Dan Maister, a foundling left on P.W.’s doorstep 7 years ago, adds soulful intensity to his base playing and manages somehow to marry hilbilly and funky in a one-of-a-kind style.

P.W. is a genius at documenting the train wreck that is his life with humor and suprising vulnerability. Sometimes it touches you in places maybe you don’t like to be touched. He filters the world through his unique and varied voice, his guitar, and his liver. His voice is wracked with pain, raw hope, and a rare ability to convey complex emotions in his delivery of a single word. his lyrics are riddled with psychic dilemma; accutely aware of being alive although not really wanting to be. There is also a great storytelling element to the songs as on “Aw Bruiser” and “Jack of Diamonds,” the latter being a traditional number.

With the onslaught of nerd rock, soulless electronic music, and the meandering post rock problem, Reelfoot is a most welcome addition to the current music situation. It is good to hear music that just is. It has soul. There is no weak link here; you have three powerful and engaging musicians whose real-life chemistry is necessary element that is tangible on-stage and on their record “We Didn’t See You On Sunday.” The album, like their live show, is an original range of traditional-veined solo acoustic performances and a soulful, imaginative, impassioned rock onslaught. Recorded by Steve Albini at Chicago Recording Company early in ’97, this record captures the subtleties and creative arrangements of the songs, knowing when to just let the rock happen, and when to hilight elegant musicianship. A couple of additional people added to the album’s color: Jeremy, the Lonesome Organist, formerly of Five Style, plays organ on a couple of uts. Casey Driessen adds fiddle on a few as well. He has most recently played with Robby Fulks.

Hopefully, this album of acoustic and rock songs will make it into your inner sanctum and touch the pale heart that is there. Reelfoot with be on tour with the entire band soon, as well as some solo P.W. shows…