Alberta ‘gypsy blues’ duo Blue Moon Marquee recently released their second album entitled Lonesome Ghosts. Previously recording under the A.W. Cardinal banner, the duo is comprised of Cardinal (guitar and lead vocals) and Jasmine Colette, who handles bass and drums.
Not previously aware of the group, I came to the album without preconceived notions, and I have found their music very appealing. Steeped in blues traditions, Blue Moon Marquee cuts things down to the wood- their presentation is uncluttered and unified. While their are certainly elements of jazz and traditional European folk music within their sound (“Gypsy’s Life,” as one example, “Bishop Street” as another), the blues is at the core.
Playing electric lead, Cardinal displays little propensity for either showy riffs or elongated jams. Rather, his playing establishes the core of the melody with little extraneous embellishment. Vocally, Cardinal is reminiscent of others who have mined the blues- dirtier than Long John Baldry, more coherent than Tom Waits, less frenetic and rocking than Phil Alvin.
Live, the group appears as a duo, but most of the songs on the album feature three or four musicians with others supplementing things on piano and drums. The song I am featuring today is the title cut, the only that features just Cardinal and Colette. I love the duo format, and this couple seem to have found their groove. “Lonesome Ghosts” strips everything aside, leaving a nice little bass line to do the hard work while the guitar provides minimal colouring. The lyrics are familiar- “I’m going down that old lonesome road”- found in a dozen blues, country, and bluegrass songs, but the (minimal) subject matter- meeting and being supplanted by spectral representation of oneself- grabs the listener’s attention, as does the sparse instrumentation.
While this song is my personal favourite on the album, the other eight songs also have much to offer. If you like Americana-singer/songwriter influences in your blues, Blue Moon Marquee will likely appeal to you.
You can listen to Lonesome Ghosts in its entirety at Bandcamp and “Lonesome Ghosts” is the closing track.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
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