Bond. Louie Bond. The smooth-styled, long-time Missoula guitar pro has teamed with singer Kimberlee Carlson to craft a terrific throwback album that mixes classic country, jazz and swing standards and a few Bond originals. Belt-buckle shiners, ballads, uptempo lopers, they’re all here.
The album was recorded with a stripped-down, dance-hall stable of instruments. Those who play them should be familiar to Montana music lovers as first-class pickers in many bands: Pete Hand, bass; Micki Singer and Roger Moquin, drums; David Horgan, pedal steel; and Jim Rogers, piano. Don’t forget Bond on guitars and a little bass. The superb, uncluttered mix and great musicianship get your toes tappin’ right away.
On “That’s How the West Was Swung,” Bond sings and plays snaky guitar, and hoppin’ pedal steel riffs flow over succinct drum work. While Rogers tinkles the ivories, Carlson’s torchy, bluesy touch, akin to the great jazz singer Nancy Wilson, caresses “Cow Cow Boogie.” Her gentle, warbly vibrato nuzzles the lyrics; the same goes for her knock-out solo on the sultry Bond/Carlson tune, “In Between of Things.” She adds a satiny, swooping sheen to her words, lengthening them like she’s sleepwalking. Bond plays a guitar interlude that ripples like falling beads of water. I like it!
Bond’s wistful original, “When Did You Learn the Blues,” which he sings by himself, is reflective and sadly sweet. And Carlson’s honeyed vocals pair perfectly with Bond’s soft, rich baritone burr. Witness ” You Do Me Good,” a sweet waltz with its demanding range.
On “Some Women,” which Bond co-wrote with Kostas and the late Hoyt Axton, a collaborator and friend, the duo trades verses, Carlson leaning on the bent notes. They swap harmonies on the catchy chorus and Bond plays a clipped, wiggly, Mark Knopfler-esque break. Cool!
Having absorbed umpteen guitar styles from his years playing hits in bar bands, and opening for or backing many country stars, Bond has thoroughly and seamlessly created his own style.
Discerning music-lovers will find lots to enjoy here. Snap it up and your ears will be grateful.
– Mariss McTucker