Mid Ear Records ME 103
by Bert van Kessel
Silver Shoes are a country rock duo from Texas, consisting of Maureen Finlon and John Finnigan. They are highly inspired by the duets of Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons, whose song Brass Buttons they took their name from. Both on their previous debut album and on this new one they have included a tributary Gram Parsons cover, this time How Much I’ve Lied from Gram’s solo debut, GP; it is treated with respect, and they also succeed in giving it their own warm and gentle feel. The Parsons connection is even strengthened by contributions from former Flying Burrito Brothers Chris Etheridge and Byron Berline.
It is amazing how Silver Shoes manage to capture that typical ‘70s pleasurable country rock sound of California, the home of Buck Owens’ Bakersfield sound, characterised by gently strumming guitars and straightforward, suave melodies. This in turn proved very influential on the style that was taken to great heights by The Eagles, Burritos and Poco. The sound of Silver Shoes recreates that style, yet is characterised by a particular freshness, which both producers, Don Richmond and Jack Saunders, have managed to bring out. The pleasure with which experienced session musicians contribute their skills exudes from every groove, uhm . , bit? Just listen to those inspired electric guitar parts by Frank Reckard, most notably so on I’ll See You Again or the wonderful, delicate interplay on the instrumental Gypsy Life. The voices of Maureen and John are perfectly matched; they take turns on lead vocals and although their harmonies may not yet reach the emotional depth of Gram and Emmylou, they are a treat to your Eustachian tubes. They are well able to touch, especially the delicate Straight From The Heart deserves to be included in your chapter of Chicken Skin Music! No fewer than sixteen tracks, 10 of which self-penned, provide an hour of gently flowing country rock. The selection of covers points at solid insight in their brand of music: Lennon & McCartney’s I’m Only Sleeping and a fine and original delivery of James Taylor’s You Can Close Your Eyes blend seamlessly into their originals. The warmth of this duo’s music will no doubt get you comfortably through winter’s cold. Well done.
Silver Shoes is comprised of the duo of Maureen Finlon and John Finnigan. Their crisp vocals and clean sound are carried through on every track making for a pleasant if somewhat safe listening journey. To help them along, Finlon and Finnigan assembled a band of ace musicians and friends from high places.
The record starts off in good fashion with the mid-tempo title track that features Finlon’s strong vocals. To See You Again follows and showcases Silver Shoe’s tight harmonies and crack musicianship. A nimble guitar lead is layered over the chug-a-chug of the rhythm section.
One of the highlights is a clean cover of the Son Volt classic Tear Stained Eye. The album’s 16 tracks also include Silver Shoes renditions of songs by the Beatles, James Taylor and Traffic – not necessarily you’re traditional alt-country choices for remakes. However, the inclusion of these eclectic covers exposes the need for Finlon and Finnigan to grow as lyricists, as the original material seldom strays from tried and true themes and could benefit from a few lyrical twists.All in all, visiting with Old Friend is time well spent.
by Steve Schmidt