Imagine the scene; with shimmering percussion in the background, bar room shenanigans in the foreground, the stench of illicit alcohol filtering through the juke joint and the band just played on. That band could well have been Blue Moon Marquee in time travelling mode so authentic have this duo, labelling themselves ‘Canadian Gypsy Blues’, proved to be in their second release LONEOME GHOSTS. Harking back to a bygone age, this record, the musical fruits of A.W. Cardinal and Jasmine Collette, is unashamedly retro and sets out the stall that regressive music can be cool in 2014.
Weighing in at a meagre 28 minutes, the solution for the shortness is to hit the repeat button and play the 9 tracks again as the record is as much about the ambience created than crying out for critical song dissection. The ambient environment can be that idyllic bar listening to the duo on their many live dates, though the alcohol is legal and a lot more expensive than the in the aura created, or for those solitary moments when all you need is something medicinal and a set of headphones.
A serious grounding in the jazz and blues venues of New York City and Montreal fuelled the creative desire for A.W. who fulfilled his passion by venturing out west to the wild pastures of Alberta to settle for a sound that has subsequently criss-crossed the Canadian land under the touring guise of Blue Moon Marquee. With song titles like ‘Scotch Whiskey’ and ‘Gypsy’s Life’, you get a feel for the content of the sound which with a little bit of critical content probably peaks in the first couple of tracks. Album opener ‘What I Wouldn’t Do’ dares you to shuffle your feet a little and a cover by old time American singer-songwriter/pianist Moon Mullican, ‘Pipeliner Blues’, displays the band’s canny knack of tapping into a style from an artist whose early active days can be traced back to 1926.
Bringing us back to the modern day and this album was recorded in Vancouver with Jasmine providing the vocals, bass and drums and A.W. adding guitars and harmonica to his prime singing and writing roles, along with selected other players. As indicated previously, Blue Moon Marquee are extremely active in their native Canada and with a little push from their PR may well want to consider the emerging markets for this bout of nostalgia in the UK and Europe. The irony to this review is that the whole old time feel is being underpinned by the global connective world delivering the music to far flung places.
So if you’re up for a touch of untainted pure retro then LONESOME GHOSTS by Blue Moon Marquee is an available option and with you at the click of a button (and insertion of a credit card number). However a warning, the worn vocals and crackling sound has more miles on them than a clapped out Ford, and not for discerning progressive ears, but retains a reassuring spirit of authenticity and is drenched in the art of preserving a snapshot of the past.