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Music Review - `Carry Me Back` by Jeff Mamett (jh)

Jeff Mamett -  Carry Me Back (click on image to watch video)

22 March 2019 


Jeff Mamett lays down an invitingly relaxed traditional country sound from the opening notes through the entire disc. His deep resonant voice with a seemingly limited range resides somewhere between Waylon and Junior Brown while his witty lyrics evoke Roger Miller, and to a lesser extent, Guy Clark. It’s easy to tell that Mamett favors a tongue-in-cheek approach. As the album unfolds, it’s every bit as western as it is country with Tex-Mex, swing and a touch of outlaw in the mix of this dozen Mamett originals. 

The album was produced by lifelong friend and Trace Adkin pedal steel player, Wayne Addelman, a multi-instrumentalist who contributes on slide guitar, resophonic guitar, lap steel, and mandolin as well. Joining Addelman are guitarists Brian Wooten and Brent Wilson. Mamett on electric bass and drummer John Richardson form the rhythm section as Tigar Bell, Chris Tuttle, and background vocalists Mike Rogers and Marian Grace add harmonies. Although the album has a Texas feel, it was recorded in Music City.

Mamett kicks off with the up-tempo “Poor House Road,” driven by the twin guitarists behind lyrics like "Patches on our patches/Things we had were few.”  Chris Tuttle’s accordion drives the mid-tempo Tex-Mex “Dark Spanish Eyes” as Addleman adds a six-string ‘tic-tac” bass. The line “dancing on moonbeams in her dark Spanish eyes” conjures up a lovely image of that special one in the cantina. 

The shuffling “Bing Bang Boom” and western swing in “Jiggle in Her Wiggle” take you right to a big Texas dancehall or one of those honky-tonks on Lower Broad  (take your pick, either works just fine) as Bell’s fiddle is the key ingredient to both.  That “jiggle in her wiggle drives me right out of mind” caps off some clever wordplay. Mamett begins with a rodeo reference in “Off and Runnin’” before it becomes a romantic getaway. Bell and Tuttle take “Feels Like Love” into Cajun territory. 

The ballad "Same Old Moon" is a clear standout track, the type that this writer may have heard on clear channel WSM AM while driving through Tennessee in the early ‘80s. The mourning pedal steel is perfect for lyrics like these -"The night moth's circling the phone booth light/I wish that I could fly/I dig for change and words to bridge the miles.” Mamett follows with another ballad, “Cold Front,” using the weather analogy to characterize a deteriorating relationship. As clever at it is, “Long Time Gone” is bit cliché’ but “Spinning My Wheels” has the Waylon vibe and the narrative style of "Take It Slow" ("Grandpa liked to stroll/He would stop and smell the flowers") is Mamett at his relaxed best, echoing Tom T. Hall’s style. The closing "An Outlaw's Song" ("Livin's just like dying/For an outlaw on the run") brings you out to the dusty plains with Wooten’s rumbling electric guitar and Addleman’s “tic tac” bass “Folsom Prison” mode. 


Mamett has fun reminding us how good well-crafted classic country can sound – succinct, often witty stories artfully rendered in a mere three-four minutes. 


Jim Hynes



Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.




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