Colin Linden and Luther Dickinson
Stony Plain Records
Master roots guitarists Luther Dickinson and Colin Linden pared up to make a stellar collection of love songs from many areas of Americana: Blues, country, rock ‘n roll, r&b, and folk are all represented on Amour and what a wonderful mix! Dickinson and Linden are joined by The Tennessee Valentines, who are Dominic Davis ( bass), Bryan Owings (drum), Fats Kaplin (violin and accordion), and Kevin McKendree (keyboards.)
They also recruited some talented Nashville musicians to sing vocals. Rachael Davis and Ruby Amanfu handle most of them, while the legendary Billy Swan sings his own composition, “Lover Please” (which was a hit for Clyde McPhatter.} Linden also brought in two fellow cast members from the TV Show “Nashville.” Sam Palladio does an amazing job on “Crazy Arms” and Jonathan Jackson wrings all the drama from a slowed-down version of “I Forgot to Remember to Forget.”
All of these songs of love have been covered many times, but these versions are different. Needless to say, all the guitar-driven musical backgrounds are wonderful, and unusual instruments are used when needed for the right effect.
Davis and Amalfi have very different sounds and are well-suited to the songs they sing. Kristofferson’s tearjerker,” For the Good Times,” becomes even more emotional in Ruby Amalfi’s slow, breathy rendition. Rachael Davis is appropriately wistful on a version of”Careless Love,” which is just slightly different than the one I know. That is, in fact, true of all these songs.
Billy Swan and Rachael Davis are effervescent on “Lover Please,” which gets a Cajun flavor enhanced by Fats Kaplin on accordion. Another upbeat number is “Don’t Let Go,” which is just fun.
For the most part, though, the album sticks o the theme of careless love and its aftermath. The song “Careless Love: returns, in fact, as an instrumental. The album ends with what for me is the weakest song, “Dearest Darling.” I don’t like the song anyway and the music seems discordant to me.
Still, this album is highly recommended. It is the first collaboration for Linden and Dickinson, but we can all hope for more from them and their talented friends. In the meantime, let Amour feel your ears and your heart!