Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ralston Bowles - Rally at the Texas Hotel


Ralston Bowles is a songwriters songwriter. His songs have depth and transcendence in the vein of a Bruce Cockburn or Bill Mallonee. His newest album is Rally at the Texas Hotel. After I heard the album I did some internet research on him and found that he has been profoundly influenced by author Phillip Yancey, who is one of my favorite authors. In fact Yancey's book "What's So Amazing about Grace" was the inspriation of his song "Grace" from a previous album (incidentally that book was also an inspiration for a U2 song by the same.) In other words, it is no wonder that I have such a personal connection with this recording.

On Rally he comments on our culture by employing cultural icons in a humorous way. First there is the song "I Saw John Kennedy Today" in which he uses revisionist history by encountering John Kennedy, who is on a permanent road trip after leaving it all behind when his double was shot in Dallas. Hey if you are going to use JFK why stop there. On the song "Velvet Elvis" he inquires "When did he cross that line from a person to a textile shrine." He reflects on modern religion on "Begging the Question." However, unlike most post-modern singers he doesn't end with cynicism. He proposes an answer on the song "Friend of God," which is a call to simplicity and relationship. He also covers the Mark Heard song "Satellite Sky." The songs are well crafted. At times they are humorous and entertaining at others they are thought provoking and inspiring. The album is on Judy Collins' Wildflower Records. The same label that produced Wes Charlton, who I have posted on previously.
The album was produced by Mark Eitzoni (Counting Crows) and he is joined on the album by Gurf Morlix and Charlie Sexton.

Check out his
MySpace page.

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