Howe Gelb and the Severe Season

Here friends, a sweet little song for the lonely this christmas from the always thoughtful Howe Gelb. It’s in the laid back piano trio mode of his recent ‘Future Standards’ record. Now, because it’s that time of year and the human mind is a strange thing there’s the just vaguest glitter of the season across that record, an occasional echo of Vince Guaraldi’s music for ‘Peanuts’ which has become tied with tinsel and memory to Christmas even in it’s not specifically festive moments. Check the opening bars of ‘Relevant’ for a little ‘Linus and Lucy’ on the roof. The mind and memory are strange and wonderful things and it’s no stretch to say he’s dived right in and messed about in that puddle on this record, how the results play out is still unclear. The title makes a bold claim and damn if he don’t look pretty darn smug on the cover, twistin’ a fistful of those damn Arizona turquoise rings. Still, with Howe things ain’t always what they seem of course, for what I guess is his first post Giant Sand record he’s gone back to the structures and lyrical approaches of great American Songbook type material and paired it up with an intimate, almost rehearsal room type vibe. It’s typically loose and has the feel of songs being sketched out for bigger, brighter voices to sing in front of tighter, more dynamic big band arrangements. Much as he can’t help being Howe and you half expect a bunch of static-y TV dialogue or bird song to wash through the background at any point it ain’t to say he can’t pull this future standard thing off. The duets with Lonna Kelly recall moments from ‘Tucson’ when he seemed to do just that, you may have your own selections from his songbook you think match up. ‘May You Never Fall In Love’ is maybe the most succesful on the records own terms… “This is an attempt at writing a batch of tunes that could last through the ages with the relative structure of what has become known as “standards”. The likes of Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael done up by Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday,” suggests Howe. “Julie London had a lot to do with it.”


howehatStill, just the one tune for you to check out there on the bandcamp but you can listen to the whole of his glorious gospel choir collaboration ‘Sno Angel Like You reissued this year with a whole live record too. It’s a beautiful thing and offers a clear pointer, if such a thing were needed, to how old Giant Sand songs might be reinterpreted in different musical setting and for very different voices, so maybe one day we’ll be getting some fuller, less casual versions of them future standards. Who knows? rounding out here we got a picture of Howe on the right there getting some santa goin’ on the beard front, and a near 30 year old christmas tune from Giant Sand. It ain’t nearly a standard to be fair friends but at least it has an insane and random ending.

~ by Mumblin' Earl on December 17, 2016.

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