Musicians such as Graham Nash and the Police’s Andy Summers have artistically lauded second careers as photographers, so it’s only natural that concept would work with photographers who long to be in front of the lens rather than behind it.
Veteran shutterbug Mark Seliger is one who has been leading his Rusty Truck Americana outfit intermittently since 2003’s debut. It has taken a decade to release this sophomore follow-up but this short yet sweet eleven tune set is a pure country delight.
True to his keen visual eye, Seliger the songwriter crafts intimate and descriptive story song portraits of working class people, their dreams and aspirations. Nowhere is this more obvious than on “Just Hold the Mayo,” a melancholy duet with vocalist Kristin Mooney. She plays the lovelorn waitress in the diner Seliger frequents, he’s the customer trying to catch her eye and the story plays out like a rustic picture.
The music is standard roots country with some rockabilly and hillbilly influences, but Seliger’s convincing voice and his down home band keeps it as real as his printed images. Even if songs such as “Anything in the World” and the homespun waltz time “Crackerjack Sunday” don’t reveal many lyrical epiphanies, Seliger is convincing in his unassuming guise cranking out bittersweet twang. He’s an even better melody writer with songs such as “Emancipation” boasting singalong choruses that never feel clichéd largely due to his relaxing voice and a low key band that never feels overly slick or calculated.
Seliger may not exude the star caliber of those he photographs, but this is a sweet, unassuming gem of an album that many of his higher profile subjects would be proud of.