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Review: 'RED MOON JOE'
'Time & Life'   

-  Label: 'DBS Recordings'
-  Genre: 'Alt/Country' -  Release Date: '28th July 2017'-  Catalogue No: 'DPSCD003'

Our Rating:
Red Moon Joe are a five-piece UK roots band from Liverpool who originally formed in 1985 but ten split up in 1993 after releasing just one album.

Time & Life is the follow up to 2013's Midnight Trains which was the band's first album in over 20 years. Needless to say, the perspective is not one fresh-faced newbies but they wear their maturity as a badge of honor .

Despite this band's Lancashire origins, the prominent use of pedal steel, dobro and banjo place the band solidly in the Americana genre.

Slow Sun Wheeling is a strong opening track which is named from a line in the poem by Swinburne that also gives the album its title: "Tired with toil to watch the slow sun wheeling". The song deals with aging and regret with lyrics about looking back more than 30 years and "a thousand songs still buzzing round his head". It features Del Amitri's Justin Currie on harmony vocals.

Another guest singer is Cathryn Craig from Virginia who can be heard on The High Lonesome.

Perhaps inevitably, there's a tendency to stray a little towards mawkish nostalgia. Psychedelic Sid is an ode to an old guitar purchased at the age of 23 and the title of Elvis, Townes and Hank speaks for itself. Please Take My Broken Heart is like a classic sad country song of old which is unashamedly in the Merle Haggard tradition.

A wholly different take on history, and closer to home, comes in the form of Orgreave. With a full brass band backing this is a full-blooded Uncle Tupelo style protest song about the injustices surrounding the closures of the mines in South Yorkshire during the 1980s that resulted in "a whole way of life on the downslide".

Despite these nods to the past, the overall mood of the album is resolutely upbeat and contemporary. The standout track for me is Hard Road a go for broke slice of rebellious cowpunk that any younger band would be proud of.

"Time, thy name is sorrow", wrote Swinburne, but the passing years don't seem to have stricken the hearts of the members of this band. On the contrary, this album shows that if you keep the faith it's never too late to start over.

Red Moon Joe website
  author: Martin Raybould

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RED MOON JOE - Time & Life