2018 CD REVIEW
THE LONG ROAD HOME (Blind Nello Records) - WWW.KEVINDEAL.COM
STONEMASON KEVIN DEAL REAPS BOUNTIFUL YIELD
“You don't want to plant the seed/ you don't want to work the field/ but you're always there for more than your share/ there's a bountiful yield/ there's rust on the plough/ and the blade is dull.” - Bountiful Yield - Kevin Deal.
Texan troubadour and singing stonemason Kevin Deal proves again he's the master of Biblical metaphors from the entrée title track of his ninth album The Long Road Home.
So it's fitting that Deal reprised his temptation parable If You Can't Put It Down (don't pick it up) as the fitting finale of his 14 song disc produced by Lloyd Maines at The Zone in Dripping Springs.
Yes, the famed town that hosted the first of Shotgun Willie Nelson's 44 July 4 picnics and latter day locale of chart climbing trio Midland .
And the same studio where Ray Wylie Hubbard recorded his 17th album Tell The Devil I'm Getting There As Fast As I Can.
But Iowa born Deal, 56, and Oklahoma refugee Ray Wylie, 72, tear pages from different scriptures in their latest discs.
Deal duetted with Hubbard on marathon gun fighter tale Sleep At Night on his debut disc but it's Maines who is his spiritual and studio mentor.
The singer may operate a vastly different and separate sculpture from his exacting and demanding day job when he structures his passionate parables and melancholic melodies.
Deal delves into the travails, trials and tribulation of life's stormy but joyous journey with angels providing guidance from way above in his title track.
It segues into an equally vivid snapshot of a challenging romance, replete with strains on other body parts in My Heart , and restraint recipes in If You Can't Put It Down .
That trio set up the scenario for Bountiful Yield where the singer reverts to the wisdom of ageless proverbs to state his case.
KEVIN DEALS A DEAD RECKONING
“Redemption is for those with remorse/ your fate rides that old pale horse/ only the blood of Jesus could ever make you clean/ but you have no desire to ever be redeemed/ this ain't about revenge, no, it's not vengeance, this here's about a reckoning/ reckoning about what you have done/ justice from the barrel of a gun.” - A Reckoning - Kevin Deal.
It's a sibling of sorts of Pushing Away The Dark that reaches back to a knowledge challenged era when “the world was flat” before the sailor falls over the edge to discover that it is indeed round.
But relief is in sight when Richard Bowden's fiddle and Kenny Thacker's banjo drive the bluegrass romp of Broken Upon The Rock.
But the joy ends abruptly in the ruptured romance requiem of a woman whose partner passes despite efforts of an altruistic Army platoon in All The King's Horses.
“ All The King's Horses could be about anyone serving in war, it was not about anyone in particular,” Deal explained.
Deal's harmonica drives the train in the optimistic dreams that are incinerated in the heartbreak and weather beaten imagery Of Dust And Smoke - a salient signpost to his revamp of the historic June Carter Cash-Merle Kilgore penned Johnny Cash anthem Ring Of Fire .
But all is not lost as Deal ensures his journey, brief or long, ends on a high in his passion paean Keeping The Faith with help from above and beyond.
It seems after a lengthy break from recording but not performing that Kevin, father of six, proves his music is still the real deal.
Multi-instrumentalist Maines lays strong foundations that include harmony vocalist Terri Hendrix, upright bassist Ian Griffith, drummer Pat Manske and guitarist-keyboard player Mills Chaiken.
Deal has also filmed a string of new live video clips with his band and peers including 1100 Springs.
The singer was born in Iowa and reared part of this family in Seattle before he moved to Texas in 1975 and now calls the North Texas town of Weston his home after escaping the suburban sprawl of Plano as Dallas exploded.
This disc is a boomerang of sorts.
Deal organised a live interview on Nu Country FM in 2001 when the station was resurrected at the Paris, Texas, end of Collins St at Harley House after the Beer Can Hill studios in Northcote burned down on June 26, 2000.
And, like Ray Wylie, whose guitarist son Lucas has played in Hubbard's band since he was 12 there was another similarity with Deal.
At the time of the 2011 Deal interview his son Steven played in his band and wife Kim ran his record label.
Steven now lives in Florida with his family and still plays guitar.
Kevin and peers Houston Marchman, Mark David Manders, Max Stalling and singing spouse Heather join musical forces for an annual Blind Nello Records Company Christmas Party - this year it is December.