Down South, it seems, songwriters like Grayson Capps just fall from the trees. Born in Alabama, he spent the last 20 years in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina kicked him out, and with Wail and Ride, Capps has created a collection of vibrant lyrical and aural images.
The music sets the stage for everything on this album; the title cut is a country blues set to a fast marching beat that features fine acoustic guitar from Capps and electric from Guthrie Trapp. The lyric is full of the imagery southern writers always come up with. And Capps’ voice is a true marvel – he can growl, sing pretty, do anything in between, and convey whatever feeling the lyric relates. “New Orleans Waltz” is a tribute to the town he had to leave – a personal statement that gets political but not too heavy-handed. The light blues of “Broomy” is driven by fine acoustic slide from Grayson. The lyric is about a homeless fellow sweeping the streets of New Orleans, and the song dovetails nicely into “Junkman,” which starts as the tale of a guy looking for trash, but quickly goes deeper. “Ed Lee” is a wonderfully funky story song about a fence made from whiskey bottles! Capps’ vocal is full of character, and the quirky tune features wild, nasty, electric guitars by Capps and Tommy MacLuckie. “Poison” has that New Orleans-shuffle feel, lyrics about voodoo, and great vocals and slide guitar by Capps.
Capps is the latest in a line of guys from the South who combine every kind of American music. And he’s a master of it all, not just a chameleon who darts in and out of styles. There’s not a bad cut among the 12 here, and in this day and age that’s very tough to say about any record.
This article originally appeared in VG’s Jan. ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.