On first listen, the Famous’ new album, Come Home to Me, sounds like the soundtrack to a roadtrip* wherein Very Bad Things Happen. Can’t speak for your world, but in NTSIB’s world, that’s more than enough to merit a second listen.
The Famous has a birth story reminiscent of the birth story of the Rolling Stones, but instead of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters albums, the chance meeting of Laurence Scott and Victor Barclay hinged on them both owning the same car: the ’65 model Ford Galaxie. The Rolling Stones comparison could be extended to the way the Famous take an old American songstyle (in their case, country & western) and mix it up with modern sensibilities… but that would be facile and trite, so we won’t do that. We could exaggerate the facts to make it seem that Laurence Scott left his life of farming for the life of a rock ‘n’ roller, but we’ll leave Scott’s 2nd place award in the 1983 Junior Farmers competition at the Dallas Farmer’s Market for excellence in radishes and swiss chard for the tabloids to uncover and twist when the band blows up big.
Though we can tell you that Scott and Barclay have secret identities, Barclay masquerading by day as a UI developer and Scott missing the whole “secret” part by being a reporter/anchor for the San Francisco Bay Area arm of NBC. And we can tell you that, both being veterans of the Bay Area music scene, they know their way around the phenomenon known as “rockin’ it”.
(We can also tell you that Barclay is the kind of noble man who will save sweet, innocent beer from being poured down the drain just because it happens to be a little past the expiration date.)
Come Home to Me is a follow-up to their 2005 debut, Light, Sweet Crude, and it is an all-around tighter and more focused album. Their penchant for down-and-dirty roadhouse country is brought to the forefront, and Scott’s voice is now strong and resonant in its timbre and twang. On closer inspection of their lyrics, there is a lot of love-gone-wrong here, but of the sort many can relate to, as evidenced in the succinct first lyric of the album opener, “Off My Mind”: This makes me sick. But I’ll make myself sicker. There are guts spilled all over this album, from the words to the guitars to Scott’s agonized howl midway through “Cold Tonight”.
But there is a lot of fun to be had in the listening. (Doubly so if you are a word nerd – “Perspicacious” had me laughing out loud the first time I listened to it.) So pop open a beer, no matter the expiration date, and have a listen.
*NTSIB may be a little fixated on the idea of roadtrips at the moment.