This may be rock but this is rock with roots that go all the way to China, as we used to say in the olden days. Crank up the sound and pass the ammunition, boys! When Nocona shuffles off to Buffalo on the opener and title track, “Long Gone Song,” it is more than the shuffle of Justin Smith's drums. Nocona powers through it like a tape deck on drugs, leaving you little time to dissect or consider what is transpiring right before your ears. Before you know it, it's over and if you're anything like me, wondering why they didn't drag it out for fifteen minutes or so (although I think that might have killed Mr. Smith, a man not known for bench-pressing anything bigger than a burger and beer and then only on occasion).
Luckily the rest of the album settles down a bit, though “Toothless Junkie” continues the rock in a '90s Steve Earle kind of way, the guitars digging trenches for the mouth harp and the bass dragging the bottom. “All the Victories of the World” mellows things out a bit, the band going a bit anthemic and Pop and doing it with a flair. And what does he do next? Goes a bit white soul, the organ and pedal steel carrying “Beelzebub Is Still the King” into late-sixties and early-seventies territory with a chord progression made for swaying, the vocal harmonies and rolling bass carrying me away with each listen. Thank you Greg Leisz (pedal steel), Carl Byron (organ), and Annie Rothschild (bass). You made a good song great, at least as far as I am concerned. And there are more. Ten songs total, each Isom-etric (see what I did there?) and ready for backing whatever projects you might have (while I headed straight for the car for a drive when the CD arrived, I have dusted and done dishes with Nocona providing musical encouragement as well).
That flair I mentioned earlier? Chalk it up to Chris Isom, a heretofore decent songwriter, finding his groove. Each song seems to have its quirk, a specific Isom touch, be it a slightly off-kilter chord progression or vocal arrangement or even just a roots-deep approach. I have heard his earlier stuff and it's good, but he has upped his game. Without a doubt, Long Gone Song is a peak.
I may be jumping the gun here. I have no idea when the album is being released for actual sale. I tossed the one-sheet which came with the CD aside, anxious for a long drive in hot weather with the album blaring. It is around here somewhere. Tell you what, though. Whenever it is, I will be on the computer cheering it on.
On a personal note, Isom and fellow bandmate Adrienne (who handles background vocals alongside Rothschild very well, indeed), with whom he is sailing the matrimonial waters, have two daughters, cute little buggers, named Georgia and Maisie. While I have known an occasional Georgia, presumably named after the peach, I have yet to come across a Maisie and am besides myself with joy. One of my favorite series of movies featured Ann Sothern as Maisie in which she managed beyond all odds to handle circumstances both bewildering and odd. I hope she realizes her heritage. Wink.