Informed, but not constrained, by Cajun, Hank Williams’ deep bluesy country, 50s pop (his last album was a peppy, stripped down set of Buddy Holly covers), Latin, gypsy, swampy Appalachian mountain music and bluesy rock and roll, Paul Burch and his WPA Ballclub band have traversed a remarkably large swath of the Americana roots terrain over the course of 10 previous releases. On paper, this diversity might seem to be an impossibly incongruent combination. But Burch pulls it off with the natural, unforced charm of the veteran he is.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Burch is the only musician who appears on every one of these 14 tracks. His nonchalant vocals, strummy acoustic guitar and bare boned drums set the mood over which occasional fiddle, mandolin, cello, Hawaiian steel guitar and Jen Gunderman’s piano add color and depth, depending on the song’s groove.
While the instrumentation and style of the tracks differ, there remains a common rootsy thread that Burch sews to connect the songs. Whether it’s the Bo Diddley thump of “Couldn’t Get a Witness,” the pure honky tonking “Straight Tears, No Chaser,” going south of the border with “Sagrada” or “Saturday Night Jamboree”’s Bob Wills swing, Burch sounds like an old soul with a youthful enthusiasm for an eclectic variety of different yet related sounds. There are no weak moments here; each tune resonates with Burch’s upbeat personality and idiosyncratic love of music that’s as joyful, uncluttered and vibrant as he is.