Joey Allcorn – All Alone Again (Blue Yodel 2009)

Posted by Pascal On August - 17 - 20104,049 views

“Well, I sure didn’t get my star from MTV” – Joey Allcorn

The first album (ever) I’m reviewing, is one by a new favorite of mine.
Joey Allcorn is most likely best placed between Wayne Hancock, Hank III and maybe even James Hand. So if you like all of the above, or old country guys like Faron Young, Hank Williams Sr., and voice-wise maybe even Gene O’Quin, well, you can’t go wrong with Joey Allcorn, from Columbia, GA.

What can I say, the albums reflects his image as an authentic songwriter en performer brilliantly. It’s honest and without slick produced sound. So, country music the way it’s meant to be, but for all you cats and kittens out there who like the rough stuff, Joey can swing and rock like hell also!

The album opens with a tune called ‘Honky Tonkin’ Ramblin’ Man’ and has a very familiar fiddle intro. A bit like the ol’ opry squaredances in the 50’s. Then right after a steelguitar-guitar-drums ‘n double bass break, he jumps right into the song. It has a good, swinging’ foot-tappin’ rhythm right from the very start. And with that first song, for if you didn’t know, Joey tells you right away who he is: “Well, I sure didn’t get my star from MTV”

The second and also titletrack “All Alone Again”  is an authentic country-ballad, with a nice twin-fiddle intro and weeping steel guitar, completed with some blue yodeling. The accompaniment is sober and simple, just some fiddle, a double-bass, steel guitar and acoustic guitar and I think some brushes.
This one has the most ‘Hank Williams Sr.’ feel about it, as far as I’m concerned. The rhythm is, as it supposed to with those kinda songs, a 3/4 country waltz.

The album continues with a mid-tempo honky tonker, called “Lonesome, Lovesick Man”.
Again, it opens up with the twin-fiddles, who do a wonderful job again, perfectly in harmony. This time, there’s some careful drums and it has a easy going rhythm going on. Here’s the lead-guitar who’s playing the first half, while the fiddle takes over at the chorus again. After that, the steel-guitarist plays around the lyrics after the refrain. I have to say, while listening to this one, I couldn’t overhear some bad notes, but hey, who said country music’s supposed to be all polished and cleaned up, right? It’s honest and I believe him.

The next one’s a real cajun-styled called “Huntsville” and has a cool laid down Louisiana beat to it.
Maybe you’ve heard of Joe Carson’s version of “I Gotta Get Drunk” (Capitol, 1963), well that’s the kinda of feel this one has too. The guitar-intro is played on the lower E and his a cool sound to it here. The fiddles play a real Cajun melodie all the way through the song, and that’s what makes it a Cajun-style song to me. The steel-guitar solo halfway in the song, is a bit careful to me, buif you find out later who’s playing it, you’ll forgive him for it! The guitar saves the day here with a tuned-down E-string to D (for all you guitargeeks) the second half of the solo. Then the fiddle ends it all again right there again.

Joey variates then with a nice ballad again, and after that the fun begins for all you rockabilly cats ‘n kittens..some stompin’ rockabilly. The song’s called “Have At It Darling” and right away at the intro, you’ll know where this one’s going for sure!
With the line “Go out -a- drinkin’ and -a- druggin’ and -a- juke-joint jumping until’you lose your mind” …he’s setting the score real well.

“The Next Time We Break Up” (I love those country songtitles) is kind of a ‘bakersfield’ flavoured song. This one could easily mistaken for a Buck Owens or George Jones song and has a bit of mix in it of Bakersfield and Nashville. The steelguiatr is a pedalsteel now (maybe in the earlier songs too, but the pedals are in fact used here) and it gives it that Nashville/Bakersfield sound right away, I like it. It also has that recognizing melody, sounding like you’ve heard it before but don’t know where, and that’s a good sign, all you songwriting folks!

The tracklist continues with “Honky Tonk Hell” which sounds to me as a country-murder ballad, or cowboyballad, if you wish. It’s mostly in a minor key and has that real sad, lowdown, heavy feeling, kinda like Hank Williams’ “Ramblin’ Man” (1953, B-side of ‘Take These ains From My Heart’). The guitar’s taking it all the way at the ending with a heavy sound and it’s getting that countryblues feeling, very nice. The lyrics are especially cool, Joey’s mentioning the big countrystars in ‘Honky Tonk Hell’ with a lines like: “Johnny Cash is singing songs about jail, Ernest Tubb will sing you a song about Texas, they’re all down here, in honky tonk hell”. Well, if hell’s like that, I wanna go there too!

Then it’s honky tonk time again, Ray Price style with “I’d Be Over You By Now”. I like this very much, this one’s in my opinion one of the best songs on the album. It could easily have been written by famous countrysong writer Harlan Howard (Patsy Cline’s ‘I Fall To Pieces’ or Ray Price’s ‘Heartaches By The Number’).
It’s an honest and true authentic 50’s honky tonk song, kinda like the 50’s and early 60’s Ray Price recording. Again, I noticed that Joey’s voice slips away sometimes here, especially at the higher notes, unfortunately. But, nevertheless a real fine song with a good 50’s country melody and accompaniment by the band.

With “Don’t Start Thinking” like that, Joey Allcorn’s is back to the rhythm hillbilly sound again, and this one’s very nice. With a strong and crisp acoustic rhythm guitar, just the way it’s supposed to be. Bass, lapsteel, (or no pedals used) acoustic guitar and a twin-fiddle solo, that’s all a hillbilly tune ever needs, right? Wrong, I’m still mising the leadguitar here, in the accompany with some easy going one-string picks following the bass in the background, then it would be perfect to me.

“Six Feet Down” is kinda like the Hot Rod Hell tune, earlier on the album. This time there’s a dobro added and it gets a more bluegrass ballad sound that way. I like the melody, but I can’t help comparing to the other one, so they’re too much alike to me.
And again not really accurate on the higher notes, sorry Joey!

We continue with a heavy sounding “Down In Louisianne” where the dobro is back again, together with a heavy overdriven guitar. The overdrive on the guitar is a little too much in my opinion, a little bit less would have made the song better and more clear. Because of the dobro, It would be better to place these 3 dobro-songs (one to go) more apart, but that’s just a thought.

Kinda like a freighttrain engine starting up to puff away a lonely track, that’s the intro on the last song on this album, called “Waitin’ By The Railroad Tracks”. The intro is nicely done and bringing up the tempo real good, but once started and the singing begins, the melody is a bit dissapointing. But it’s short, because right after that it goes on with a solo, while the second half is an acoustic guitarsolo, which is a very good one by the way. Clearly a guitarist with control and good skills, picking a very fine tune here. Further down in the song, a double-bass solo comes up. I like the sound of the bass, although it’s a little thin, it could’ve been more full and have some body in it. This last one is a throw away, but it’s good to hear those instruments like this together, including the dobro again.
The second acoustic guitarsolo is even better, real fine flatpicking here!

So, my conclusion about Joey Allcorn’s second album. In majority it’s a real good album, with a good mixture of country styles and some rockin’ tunes. The first half of the album is clearly better than the second one in my humble opinion, so it would have been better to get a more balanced mixture in these songs. But of course that’s just my personal taste.
The instrumentalists are really good, backing up Joey with a strong rhythm section and experienced and skilled soloists.

Well…that’s no wonder, cause he gathered the most brilliant musicians around, to back him up. Sit back and be amazed!
Fiddle-master Hank Singer, who currently tours with George Jones, Lloyd Green, the most recorded pedalsteel guitarist in history and bassplayer Dave Rowe from Johnny Cash’s last touring band were brought on board here, as well as Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboy band (and also Ray Price and many others) steelguitarist Don Helms. Helms passed away in August of 2008, and All Alone Again features some of his final recording sessions. He remains a legend among steelguitar players.

The overall sound is very good, not too modern sounding, but also not too trashy. It has a clean sound with a nice balance in the instruments and vocals and certainly not over-produced with all kinds of effects.
The cover is simple and clear, with a picture of Joey Allcorn on it and a basic typography used for the titling. No real fancy jokes here.
Can’t wait though, for his 3rd release….

Joey says:

“I’m not a rebel or an outlaw or anything like that, I just make the kind of country music that I like. I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel or do anything revolutionary, I just want to write songs and make records for people who enjoy authentic country music.”

Joey Allcorn – All Alone Again
Blue Yodel Records (2009)
Released: 7 Jul 2009
13 tracks (41:58)

(Written by Pascal Snijders)

Click here to see Joey Allcorn on documentary \”I Wanna Be Ready: Gospel, The Blues, and the Rural Black Experience\”

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