Thomm Jutz and Craig Market team up for the sumptuous new Nowhere To Hide set. Stretched over 12 tracks are themes of travelling and getting older, all blended together with a sense of simplicity, warmth, and experience. Indeed, the duo recorded the album – featuring just their two guitars and two voices – at the rate of one song a day, and it’s easy to appreciate the relaxed, sensitive approach to the songs and their singing.
All of the songs are written by singer-songwriter-producer Jutz (he was at the helm of the recent Mac Wiseman Songs From My Mother’s Hand record too), and famed sideman and writer Market. Market’s work has been recorded by Dan Tymisnki, Ronnie Bowman, Lonesome River Band, and Blue Highway, which gives you some idea of the range and quality of his songs, and Jutz has worked with Nanci Griffith, Otis Gibbs, and Kim Richey as well as with Wiseman. Together, they have made an album of care, beauty, and poignancy.
The songs tell of experience, of life and what it throws at you, and in the case of "Every Pilgrim Needs a Highway," of travelling and escape. Tales of places, home, and life as a musician on the road (or in the case of "Midnight 4002," the rails) are played with care and understanding – with harmonies and twin guitar parts on Market’s 1937 Martin D18, and Jutz’s 1948 model of the same instrument. "Indigo Blue" shows how the ideas around the writing of songs change and adapt, to create something deeply delicate and beautiful.
The aforementioned "Midnight 402" flows out in different directions as it develops, but never loses its thread of exploration and travel. Market and Jutz have voices redolent of love and loss, but also of redemption and acceptance. Their winding, meandering playing on "It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over" paints a picture and creates a whole world -- figuring out when things are wrong, or over, but trying to find reasons for how the situation came about. The two singers have a rare ability to speak of life and its meaning, and having you believe them all the way along.
"More Than the Miles" continues the theme of separation, how to continue, and how best to overcome pain and heartbreak. The song, in the same way as the rest of the album, is direct and honest, drawing you in to its true-to-life wisdom. But this wisdom extends to incorporate other lives – be it looking back on a war-time story on "Some Place in France," or the musically stunning, hauntingly sad "Thunder" – the songs feel personal and truthful.
"Thunder" is the album’s most interesting song, on which the story takes the personal into the other. Reminiscences of Ireland and the physical and psychological toil of a gravedigger leave the narrator dumbstruck with the horror of the situation. Sadness and desolation are balanced with an "endeavour to find hope," according to the liner notes. It's a truly amazing song.
WV Miner brings things back home, with a story to appeal to bluegrass and country fans – the life and times of a mining man. "Fiction" based on fact is often the best basis for songs, as on this humorous and loving tribute. And "You Take Me as I Am" is a perfect ending for the set, as the melody and lyrics are built into the song from another piece the duo were working on, and the organic and flowing process is reflected in the song. It's a love song with an "incidental spiritual element" (liner notes again), which sums up what the project is about and what it delivers.
And that is an album filled with simple, direct, and honest truths, which is beautiful, though not always easy ("Some Place in France," "Thunder") to listen to. Sparse perhaps in theory, the album lacks for nothing, with the arrangements, singing and playing all providing everything you could wish for.