2017 CD REVIEW
LET ME IN (Checked Label).
EMMYLOU AND LEVON HELM – MUSICAL METAPHORS
“I wrote this song for you, sweet Emmylou/ sweet Emmylou won't you listen/ now it's easy to sing and I'm hoping it brings me/ closer to the one to one I'm missing.” - Sweet Emmylou - Rick Hart.
When Rowville singer-songwriter Rick Hart leaves home for concerts and tours he has more than a few women on his mind.
There's his wife Vanessa who emerges in Sweet Emmylou - a moving metaphor utilising the imagery of Alabama born balladeer Emmylou Harris.
Hart's song evokes the pain of missing his wife and three children at home while he is absent on distant stages, motels, hotels and that not so mystical lost highway.
Ironically Emmylou, now 70 and 30 album veteran, comes from a military family where her Marine father Walter was also missing in action as a prisoner of war in Korea for 10 months when she was just five.
Hart resisted the temptation to include Echuca paddle steamer Emmylou named after the 13 time Grammy winner in his video clip for Sweet Emmylou.
Instead Rick headed north to Warburton and east to Drouin - hometown of the famed Ablett football clan - to illustrate his cinematic odyssey with his director producer Jimmy Daniel.
Maybe it was a subliminal signpost for the return of Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett Jr on the eve of his reunion with the family he has long missed in Geelong.
“We feature Sweet Emmylou in the Nu Country TV Series #34 premiere on Channel 31/Digital 44 on Saturday December 2 at 9 pm.”
So it's fitting Sweet Emmylou segues into another family homily Shooting Star written with Rick's son Evan that ignites memories of school days to flavour flutters of the heart, so to speak.
“Evan is my son who was aged seven at the time he brought me the opening two lines for Shooting Star" Rick revealed. "It essentially inspired the song, which is all about a first schoolyard crush.”
LEVON HELM RESURRECTION
“She said he looked like Levon Helm in his prime/ with his rugged looks and his delicate state of mind/ but when the drinking started up again/ she said I can't remain/ I love you but I won't watch you fade away.” - Levon Helm - Rick Hart.
Helm also played sprite octogenarian Loretta Lynn's dad Melvin Tedd Webb in the famed Coal-Miner's Daughter movie.
But it's highly unlikely we'll learn the identity of the vanquished vixen who inspired Cyclone Nancy - the horrific heart wrecker who leaves the lead male character in the ruins of a ruptured romance.
It may be salient sequencing that finds this as a sibling and precursor of To The Grave where the male lead is a victim of a cheating chameleon who drives him to an early departure.
The locale of the accompanying Michael Carpenter directed video seems appropriate - a haunted house of sorts on the mean streets of Coburg near the old Pentridge prison.
Maybe we're lucky the duet with singing spouse Vanessa on Little Pieces , where the hapless narrator is struck by a runaway train of morose memories, doesn't yet have a video clip.
Close The Door - a direct descendant of all those tunes where the departure of a lover is accompanied by a plea to shut the swinging hinges on the way out - is a videogenic vignette.
“I am planning a video for what will be the next likely single Close The Door ,” Hart confessed.
“At this stage probably in January.”
It segues into Weighing On My Mind where good love goes to waste for both partners.
It may seem Hart is a desperado devotee of tear-jerking tsars of broken hearts like the late George Jones and Merle Haggard.
But there's light at the end of the tunnel and album with Love Gets The Better Of Me - a delicious duet with Elysia Gomez.
“Elysia is my very talented niece,” Rick explained.
“I loved the frailty of her voice and felt it would be perfectly suited to the song when I wrote it. Her voice was exactly what I was looking for and it was actually her first time in a recording studio.”
The power and passion here is driven - not just by Hart's accessible vocals - but multi-instrumentalist Michael Zammit on violin, guitar, bass, keyboard and drums.
And, of course to accentuate the melancholia, there's in-demand pedal steel guitarist Brendan Mitchell who did his time in the beer and wine mines with the Dead Livers in days of yore and Matt Joe Gow in modern history.
Although Hart has a live gig in the city of churches with Adelaide hills sextet The Heggarties on December 2 at the Grace Emily Hotel his fans can watch Sweet Emmylou on Nu Country TV.