Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Lincoln Durham - Exodus of the Deemed Unrighteous Doog Records

On the couple of occasions I have come across Texan performer Lincoln Durham in the past, he has been beset by difficulties out of his control. Firstly, venue technical issues dogged his set in Birmingham nearly eighteen months ago then twelve months later a red tape travel issue saw his follow up UK tour cancelled. Yet having been captivated by his raw passion, dedication and energetic approach to music, Lincoln Durham is an artist that remains lodged in the good memory section of my mind. The good news from deep in the heart of Texas is that Lincoln is in fine fettle as his sophomore album EXODUS OF THE DEEMED UNRIGHTEOUS is about to get its formal UK release.

Lincoln takes his brand of roots rock literally as witnessed during his live show and it’s reassuring to know that his pride and joy, the cigar box guitar complete with broomstick handle, makes an appearance in the track ‘Annie Departee’. In fact the whole record is one of improvised experimentation as vintage Samsonite suitcase guitar, piano with keys plucked from the inside and a vox box amplifier rubs shoulders with conventional guitar, percussion, lap steel and harmonica. There is a distinct blues feel to the sound and vocals of Lincoln albeit in a Texas dirt kind of way with a roughness which adds to the exhilarating experience of rinsing your soul with his music.

Photo by Stephen Schmitt
From a UK perspective, there are some loose similarities with fellow American Seasick Steve who has proved such a hit over here with mainstream audiences, but Lincoln is a more versatile artist as exemplified in the evocative album closer ‘Mama’. The contrast of this moving finale is stark when compared to the preach-like riveting opening ‘Ballad of a Prodigal Son’ where all of a sudden the almost soulful percussion backed vocals are subject to a burst of electrified impulsion. This compulsive appetiser leads into a more conventional roots rock number ‘Rise in the River’ which you could envisage being lifted on one of the great pioneering blues rock albums of the sixties.

Working closely with his wife Alissa and a handful of other contributors, Lincoln continues to absorb the listener with a mix of stripped down ballads such as ‘Keep on Allie’ and more powerful songs like ‘Sinner’ where Lincoln ramps up both the vocals and sound. In true Texas tradition the banjo and fiddle make an appearance on ‘Exodus Waltz’ to reflect his upbringing, although the overall sound has gravitated away from these roots. However the ideals of his grounding have flavoured the rock exploration with a sense of identity and provide a deep rooted anchor to give the record utmost merit.

‘Recorded using only the cheapest “instruments” and most percussive household items we could find’ is an inspiring quote lifted from the album sleeve and perfectly sums up the authenticity, creativity and DIY approach to Lincoln’s work. It may be short on expense but it’s certainly rich on impact. The record weighing in at just over half an hour won’t take up too much of your initial time but addictive repeat plays will. The only issue with EXODUS OF THE DEEMED UNRIGHTEOUS is that it falls short of experiencing Lincoln Durham live. Hopefully in 2014 previous travel difficulties can be ironed out and funds are sufficient to give us another visit to bring the raw power of this album to life.

UK release date 13th January 2014

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