Tellin’ It Like It Is ‘Down South’
Folks around here have been driving themselves pure crazy waiting for Jim Quick’s latest funked-up collection of melodic metaphors telling tales of heartache, woe, one-night stands and other intimate snapshots of his tumultuous life.
Well I’m happy to tell all ya’ll that there’s no need to get your panties in a wad, it’s finally here. Hot off the Music City presses, the CD titled Down South is here, but this time around, our hero is singing a whole different tune.
He’s left his Coastline band behind – for the moment – and teamed up with Nashville songwriter/producer Gary Nicholson. All 14 tracks on the CD are either written or co-written by Nicholson, who has brought together a colorful group of mostly southern songwriters to help him tell us how it is Down South.
I don’t mind telling you I was a little skeptical since Jim Quick, a fine songwriter himself, is pretty strong in the colorful department … sort of Cole Porter meets the Soggy Bottom Boys. But it appears to be a smart partnership.
“I’ve been wanting to work with Gary Nicholson since Nothing Personal [Delbert McClinton’s 2003 Grammy-winning album, which was produced by Nicholson]” Jim tells me. ‘A Little Bit of Money,’ ‘Buying This Beer,’ ‘Mississippi Mud’ … all were totally written with Gary Nicholson in mind. What would he do if he were writing this song?”
Quick’s vocals throughout Down South are some of his strongest to date – raw and emotional, with a little swamp funk around the edges.
Opening track is “Living On Love,” co-written with Craig Fuller of Little Feat and Pure Prairie League fame. It’s a fast-paced, high-energy piece that hints of what’s to come.
Track two, “Rewind,” is a sweet little tune, almost pop in nature, but soulful and fluid. Nicholson wrote it with N.C. native Seth Walker whose own music melds blues, jazz and soul with his recently adopted Nashville’s country sound. Carolina folks will love its shag beat.
Up next is “Stronger Than You Need To Be,” penned by Nicholson and Twin City players Bruce McCabe and David Z (You may know David Z for the distinctive snare drum on the 1989 hit single, “She Drives Me Crazy” by the Fine Young Cannibals). This is a tune about tenderness and surrender, accentuated by a spot-on vocal delivery from Quick.
Title track, “Down South,” follows and it’s a righteous romp through swamp living, downhome cooking and all things southern. Listen for some fine slide guitar here from Canadian Colin Linden. Southern Canadian.
“I’m a Dog,” a co-write with Delbert McClinton, is going to be a favorite at live shows. Listen closely, you’ll hear Delbert barking, too. Fun tune that I expect will become signature Coastline.
Bekka Bramlett, talented offspring of the California country-rock duo Delaney and Bonnie, is the husky, sultry female vocal on the fast moving country-edged “Deal With It.” Written by Nicholson and Billy Burnette, this tune was on Bekka and Billy, the duo’s 1997 pop rocka- billy recording, and now she adds her significant voice to Quick’s for another lively version of the tune.
She’s also one of the writers on “Strongest Weakness,” which has a rockin’ gospel sound that’ll get you out of your seat. Is that the McCrary Sisters I’m hearing?
Other tracks include “No Good Place To Cry,” a take-your-breath-away ballad written by Nicholson and Randy Houser, “Forever Man,” a Tyrone Davis-type tune, which was co-written with Billy Currington; and “It’s Too Late” from Alabama southern roots voice, Adam Hood.
“Hurt That Bad” (Gary Nicholson/Billy Currington/Paul Overstreet) will grab your heart, guaranteed. Vocals and horns are especially noteworthy here. The jumpin’ “It’s Always Something” was written by Gary Nicholson, guitar great Al Anderson, Tom Hambridge and Delbert McClinton. “Don’t Shoot the Snake” (Gary Nicholson/John Hadley/Kevin Welch) is a great blues-driven closer that brings us full circle back to the swamp.
Players on the CD include: Lynn Williams, drums, percussion; Steve Mackey, bass; Rob McNeely, electric and acoustic guitar; Gary Nicholson, electric and Kevin McKendree, piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, Hammond B3 organ; Colin Linden, slide guitar; Al Anderson, guitar (“It’s Always Something”); Jim Hoke, saxophone, harmonica, Jew’s harp; Steve Herman, trumpet; Chris Charmichael, strings; Delbert McClinton, har- monica and barking (“I’m a Dog”); Jim Quick, lead vocals; background vocals, Bekka Bramlett, Perry Coleman, Regina McCrary, Ann McCrary and Frieda McCrary; producer, Gary Nicholson.
Apologies to Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen and Pat Enright. Soggy Bottom Boys is just way more poetic.