Dark shades of western noir, neck-high in reverb-drenched gothic twang.
Since the release of their debut album, This Lonesome Paradise have relocated to Joshua Tree, CA. That move brought them to the attention of Pat Kearns who runs Goat Mountain Recording, a solar-powered studio set in the desert. An immersive recording session followed, with the band arriving with a handful of loose demos and a collection of vintage equipment. They emerged with their sophomore album, a fine collection of songs that echo with the spirit of The Gun Club, The Doors, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, to name but just a few of their more illustrious antecedents.
Band leader E. Ray Bechard had this to say about the recording: “Nightshades is the sounds and moods of the captured energy of the desert… its vastness, brutality and beauty. We allowed the electricity of this landscape to push us deeper into the western lounge noir that we call This Lonesome Paradise. Much like the first album, the goal of this record was to capture as much live band energy as possible with a minimal amount of overdubbing. The entirety of the album was tracked within the 8 days we lived at the studio. I came with a list of song ideas and we worked them out as a group, allowing for creativity and spontaneity to be our driving force. Nightshades is a representation of time and place and would not exist as is without all of those who participated in its creation.”
The album opens with ‘Scorpion Song’, and its haunting trumpet set deep in a cavernous desert-wide soundscape. Eerie mellotron and sonorous bass precede the vocals, which heavily evoke ‘Let Love In’ period Nick Cave, with their gloom and growl. It’s an excellent opener, setting out the tone for the whole album and, despite strong competition, it remains one of the strongest the tracks in the entire collection. There’s more variety than you might expect, though: there’s some Roy Orbison-style balladry in ‘Into the Sun’ and ‘Moonlight Tragedy’, and the syncopated organ on ‘Lonesome River’ helps bring to mind no less than Jim Morrison. Every track has something to recommend it and the quality of the playing and performances never falters.
Taylor Kirk from ‘Timber Timbre’, Canada’s own respected swampy, cinematic soundtrackers, was brought in to produce the album and, along with the rest of the team, did a great job in capturing these authentic, vintage tones. Alongside the swathes of reverb, the tremolo circuit on the amps gets heavy use and the whole album has a warm, harmonically-complex analogue tone that never seems to lose focus.
‘Nightshades’ isn’t redefining the boundaries of the genre, but it is serving up a fresh take on a familiar sound. If you are a fan of high-quality gothic Americana or western noir, you’re going to enjoy spending some time in This Lonesome Paradise.