Kevin is an artist who immerses himself into a performance. There are bits of him left on stages at concert halls and dive bars around the country. The Kevin Gordon band is well oiled and loose, you can get lost in the groove of these songs. All the better to Tilt & Shine.
Though not necessarily autobiographical, these stories are all true. Set mostly in his home state of Louisiana Kevin captures the bizarre comings and goings with a hawks eye and a poet’s truth, “One of the things I like about it and am mystified by is that what passes for normal in Louisiana would not make the grade elsewhere,” he says.
“Fire at the end of the world” is pure KG rock n’ roll. A poet by choice, Kevin Gordon paints us back to a time when the word was wide open and innocence is a finely balanced teeter-tot. Tilt & Shine is best experienced with a scorching guitar and driving rhythm. Turn it up!
“Saint on a Chain”, one of Rolling Stones “Ten Best Country and Americana Songs of the Week” contain some of the most poetic imagery.
“Every rivers a daughter of a dirty rain
See how it shines.
Waters moving like the blood pushing through my veins
See how it shines, like a Saint on a chain”.
Written for a friend back in Louisiana who Kevin keeps trying to kill off in a song. He almost succeeded this time. A story written from the perspective of someone who lived and will probably die within a few miles radius of his Louisiana home. Someone who’s numbed the feelings out of a dead-end existence. “Saint On A Chain” has also been recorded by Julie Christensen with Stone Cupid off of her album “The Cardinal”. It’s worth checking out. Kevin’s songs are so well crafted that they sound good rocked out or tamed down. At the end of the day it’s the lyric that has staying power. a published writer with an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Kevin writes damn fine lyrics.
“One Road Out (Angola Rodeo Blues)” has some of the best left-handed drumming in the business. Paul Griffith, a long time fixture in the band, is on fire. Is this his swan song? It’s just Paul and Kevin on this one and It is pure bliss listening to two friends bounce off each other. You can hear Paul’s infamous head tilted to the side laid back groove so recognizable with Kevin Gordon
“Gatling Gun” slows things down and verges on dark, but then the chorus brings you out into the light with an image “I still see her there…” a beautiful dreamlike encounter with a past love. The juxtaposition of melody and chorus is dream like in its presentation, a Tilt & Shine moment.
“Right on Time” courses out the rhythm of the road. Stretching between family and the traveling existence, you’re not early, you’re not late. the best you can be is right on time. The image of these lyrics “two kids and a wife that makes three, people who don’t know what to make of me. Blow through the doors with my four chords and my rhymes.” speak volumes.
“DeValls Bluff” has an eerie brilliant tone set against dark imagery. This one has a slow burn. It’ll take a listen or two for the full effects to rear its head, but it has lasting power.
“Rest Your Head” a song musically in the vein of “Following a Sign” Kevin brings out the “heavy” steel guitar for a Louisiana blues ramble that wraps the tender lyrics in a comforting embrace. Lyrics like;
“Cool wind in the shadow of a redwood tree
I can’t see that bird but I’m a fool to think
it’s singing just for me.
Whippoorwill or mockingbird, lonesome song ain’t got no words.
but I think I know what it means.
Baby rest your weary head and dream”.
“Get It Together” is pure rollicking rock n’ roll commentary with “when you gonna get your shit together, might be now, might be never”. At any rate this song will help you forget about it long enough to dance, and sometimes that’s all it takes.
You can get lost in the stories interpreted by Kevin Gordon, but it is the driving rhythm of Kevin’s 1956 Gibson ES-125 tuned down to open D, that becomes syncopated with your heart. It’s a groove that continues to flow like the swampy bayous of Louisiana and the rivers that take you there.
Through it all is some of the best musicianship. Kevin recorded with his usual suspects, but added some extra sparkles of brilliance to round out the sound.
Produced by Joe V. McMahan
Recorded at Wow & Flutter, Nashville, March 2017-March 2018 Mixed by Joe V. McMahan
Mastered by Gavin Lurssen, Lurssen Mastering, Los Angeles, CA
The musicians are:
Kevin Gordon: vocal, guitars
Joe V. McMahan: guitars, bass and harmony vocal
Paul Griffith: drums
Ron Eoff: bass, backing vocal
Jon Radford: drums
Josh Hunt: drums
Ian Fitchuk: drums & percussion
Eli Beaird: bass
David Jacques: bass
Robbie Crowell: keyboards
Aaron Lee Tasjan: backing vocal
Laura Mayo: backing vocal
In true Kevin Gordon style, this is a masterful record. Kevin is one of those hidden gems. If you’ve read this far you know he’s pretty special. Go enjoy this record. Get your Tilt & Shine on.
- Viola Krouse