I've been an unashamed fan of Markus Rill for 5 or 6 years now, and want to scream his name from the rooftops top try and draw attention to his fantastic albums that combine the very best of Steve Earle and Springsteen's Blue Collar working folk, with the barren back-roads of the Mid-West and the sensibilities of songwriters like John Prine and Guy Clark; but because he's German he's not deemed 'cool' enough for the attention of the British and American music magazines and websites.
It's their loss.
What I make to be his 13th album; gets off to a rip-snorting start with the Country-Rocker Something Great. A fabulous tale of a boy from Hicksville, who is part of a School sports team that takes on and beats the city boys, through 'team spirit' and kinship; which he takes and uses throughout his life; until he now stands proudly on a stage fronting a Rock Band. I wonder who it could possibly be about?
All of Rill's songs are really stories put to music; but drawing on the likes of John Mellancamp and even Roger McGuinn for inspiration at times; the results are often fabulous - try the darkly beautiful The Paupers Daughter or perhaps The Hands of Mercy to hear a musical craftsman at work.
While Rill is never afraid of wearing his heart on his sleeve (The Girl in the Red Polka Dot Dress); he also has the ability to find subjects that are difficult to talk about; never mind sing about like Alzheimer's Disease; and turn it into a raw thing of beauty in the highly sensitive Losing My Mind. Listen and cry.
Another odd subject to put into song is sex, celibacy, temptation and Catholicism. Caroline gets to get all of her sins absolved by her Priest; but after hearing her sins in all their intimate detail; it leaves the Priest; a man at heart with a terrible dilemma. Somehow Markus Rill turns this all into a belting Rock Song that ends in a crescendo of guitars and drums.
With Europe and in particular Germany in political turmoil at the moment; Rill turns his thoughts to that thorny subject in Some Democracy. Taken from the point of view of the 'every-man' this song will resonate with anyone slightly left of centre in the USA, UK and probably any other right thinking country at the moment. 10/10.
Just as in the good old days of my youth; Dream Anyway is a real album; that needs to be listened to as a whole; but a couple of tracks fight to the death for the title of 'favourite'; first contender is the jaunty 'ode to love' Poor Man's Set of Wheels and the title track which closes the whole affair. While I'm a suckler for a love song; Dream Anyway probably wins as the subject matter is very close to my heart and the 12 string guitars and Rill's warm 'burr' combing to create the perfect track for cruising the highways and byways all Summer long.