The Desotos – Your Highway For Tonight (Ode/Rhythmethod) CD REVIEW

Recently, Black Seeds front person Barnaby Weir released his debut solo album, which was an attempt to turn himself into a “roots rock” exponent. It failed. Barnaby could take lessons from The Desotos, whose Paul Gurney (the main songwriter/vocalist/guitarist) and Stuart McIntyre (bass, vocals) have been on the scene since the late ‘70s.
Your Highway Tonight strikes me as an awkward album title, and even the band name sounds a bit wrong to me, given that this brand of car, while American, was in production a long time before the kind of roots music that inspired them. Given two black marks already, I was expecting a rather humdrum affair. The critic was wrong.

Both Gurney (nine songs) and McIntyre (five songs) write brilliantly, and this 14-song effort doesn’t have a weak moment. The Desotos’ music oozes genuine emotion, makes all the right moves without having to think about them first; and that means it’s probably hard-won and tracked by as many tears as years.
And speaking of tears, Gurney’s songs here are frequently in the doldrums, and almost always dipped in strong sentiment. That means that Your Highway For Tonight isn’t exactly a barrelful of monkeys, but it’s not about sliding aimlessly around in discontent, it’s about find some way to ruminate on those blows life keeps dishing out, and moving on, and the band respond with a sound that matches his lyrics, perfectly.
There’s real sonic depth in these recordings, which capture the reverberant guitar sound, the dynamic of a set of close-miked drums, the fat bass and the fruity organ that fills out the sound. The group are aided and abetted on occasion by famous guests like Midge Marsden, who blows his harmonica on a couple of occasions, and Cameron Bennett (the TV journalist?) bending the strings of his pedal steel.
Gurney often sounds like a world-weary Don McGlashan, and while his lyrics are less transparently observational, less crafted, they’re adept and pointed and have more than a few things to say for themselves.
The Desotos veer from roots rock to bluesy rock to a form of bluesy psychedelia on this second album, and they’ve made a work that, while it may not make more than a blip on a depressed music market, is something to rightly be proud of. GARY STEEL
SOUND = 4/5
MUSIC = 4/5

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