Alan Stockard – American Treasure

A new pair of boots on an old, old highway.

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When a musician I respect sends me an email suggesting I listen to something, I tend to do it. It doesn’t happen that often, but a few days ago it did. The suggestion was to listen to the songs of Alan Stockard.

With no preconception, no expectation, I clicked on the first song and within 60 seconds, I knew this was a keeper. His songs have been playing constantly for 2 days.

What does it sound like? Cajun-country-funk & blues with a sand-blasted voice of dust and corn syrup.

With great songs.

There is some exquisite, economic song-writing here and a rock and pop sensibility that has its roots in America’s oldest traditions. All the songs are short, which is a positive thing for me, and there’s enough of a story to reel me in, with enough of a twist to keep me there.

Destination Unknown makes me yearn to drive that long, hot highway in search of a woman who will never meet my Mother and will cry when I leave. It’s a song of careless hope and optimism with an irresistible energy and melody.

Brushy snare and sparkling mandolin, flat top strum and gospel organ surround his laconic Texan drawl perfectly. There are some off-kilter background vocals that give it an eerie edge. I could listen to this all day.

Moving Along sounds like a new take on Cash’s cover of Dylan’s ‘Wanted Man’ and has a killer rockabilly solo at the end. If you put this on (Steve) Earley in the evening, I guarantee you will have a great, great night. And I can’t recall too many records that start with the sound of a dog barking far away in a field.

Killing The Things We Love takes a whole basket of clichés and serves them up anew. I think it’s very clever writing and not many people can do it. The skill in the choice of words makes me smile while the tune makes me cry.

Mobile strums along, an acoustic outtake from The Stones’ ‘Exile On Main Street’. The harmonies are a sweet surprise that Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris would be proud of.

I love the sound of these recordings. When he becomes well-known, I hope he doesn’t over-pay big-name producers to make his records sound ten-times worse than these. They are near perfect.

Carried Away reminds me of the sweet, sweet promise of my youth – full of guitars, hot love and heroic drunkenness, the future sprawled out before me like a table full of nudes – and the sadness that it didn’t turn out quite so splendid or so bright.

The sound of the guitar and voice is rich and timeless, the whole thing creaks like an old beautiful floor and I adore the combination of hope, joy, sadness and pain in this man’s voice. I would say that his life hasn’t all been plain sailing. And there’s that damned dog in the fade out…

Another Highway is an American epic. If you like Nebraska-era Springsteen, John Mellancamp or Steve Earle, you will love this song.

It starts with a simple picked acoustic and a few, long, low bass notes, then an electric piano chimes in and lifts it as his voice rises to announce the chorus. It’s an airwave classic waiting for a radio. You could record this song a hundred ways and it would still sound great.

There is nothing about this man’s music I don’t like. I am truly glad I found it and I know that I will be listening to it for a long, long time.

You can hear it too – just click here: http://www.reverbnation.com/astockard

 

Alan Stockard

Alan Stockard

I managed to ask Mr Stockard a few quick questions before he was off to his next show:

Where are you from in the US?

“I was born in Tennessee, but raised in Kentucky from a child on up.”

I can hear a couple of other people on some of your tracks?

“(On ‘Destination Unknown’) that’s my pal Evan Rose hitting those licks on the mandolin, and singing with me on ‘Mobile’ is Denise Pope, a friend, as well as talented performer who lent her lovely voice on several songs. Very glad she did. Also, David Barbe played Wurlitzer and bass on a couple of tracks.”

Where do you record?

“Anywhere that’ll take me or I can. I recorded the first cut of songs in Athens in a studio [Chase Park Transduction Studios]. The second batch was done in my friend Jordan’s apartment. I’m not a huge fan of the recording process. It’s necessary, but I prefer an environment that is comfortable, and self-paced.”

 

DESTINATION UNKNOWN

 

I ride a ribbon of highway

I walk this world alone

For a man’s always travelin’

Destination Unknown…….

 

Endless stretches of concrete,

Tire’s hum underneath

They moan a steel belted rhythm

To the thump of an asphalt beat

 

A slave to the familiar,

I broke my shackles & chains

Freedom’s found on lost highways

Salvation, on strange interstates

 

Some are hoping to find it,

Others leave it behind

If both are willin’ to ride it

It’ll take ‘em to the end of the line

 

Some run to discover,

Others run to escape

Still, others run for no reason

‘Cept for the travelin’s sake

 

A slave to the familiar,

I broke my shackles & chains

Freedom’s found on lost highways

Salvation, on strange interstates

 

The horizon hold’s secrets

And they yearn to be told,

And somewhere over the rainbow

Lies things more precious than gold

 

From midnight to morning

Sunset to Sunrise,

A man’s got to keep rolling

To see what’s over the rise

 

I ride a ribbon of highway

I walk this world alone

For a man’s always travelin’

Destination Unknown.

Copyright © 2012 Alan Stockard

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Thanks to:

Lee Tyler Post for introducing me…

This review is Copyright © 2013 William Henry Prince. Please contact author for permission to reproduce.

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2 responses to “Alan Stockard – American Treasure

  1. Well Sir Prince……Are you trying to out-do yourself…. ? I think you may have just doen that same thing….. Your descriptive ‘mind-pictures ‘ that you send out are ….VERY refreshing….”…a table full of nudes “…… You’re good mister. Aren’t memories of times like that fun … ? This Singer brings back a lot for me……………the fun memories…when times weren’t so frightening and life was looser….more energetic……but appealing too. The way you’ve described “Another Hi-way”……you’ve listed 3 of my faves for this genre of music………….Am anxious now to listen to that one . Congrats on finding this man…and for sharing him….and his words with us……………….. you rock Prince…. [?]

    On Thu, May 23, 2013 at 3:16 PM, William Henry Prince wrote:

    > ** > williamhenryprince posted: ” Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE > X-NONE “

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