Kevin Gordon is a heartland troubadour of the most authentic variety, the kind that sings songs of actual happenstance without regard to however challenging or chilling the listener might find them. Rustic and rambling, his music conveys the impression that they were borne from a different age, given the quiet rumination and vivid imagery that have always been Gordon's more essential additives. The quickest comparison would be to John Prine, an artist whose dry reflections pry open the deep determination of resolve and remorse.
Not surprisingly then, with "Tilt & Shine," Gordon explores more familiar terrain, at least as far as his own experience is concerned. The scenarios he sings about are anything but comforting - they involve Klansmen, crooks, highways that come to an unexpected end and once-comforting places where innocence can give way to unexpectedly ominous circumstance.
Gordon tackles these subjects with the tone and tenacity they call for, a sound that veers from the gritty backwoods bravado of the bluesy opening track "Fire At The End Of the World" to the weary resolve of "Gatling Gun" and the brooding reflection of "Saint On a Chain." Yet, beneath this teeming turbulence Gordon also makes his methods clear. The shuffling boogie of "One Road Out (Angola Rodeo Blues)" and the reliably rocking "Right On Time" affirm his assertive intents.
Ultimately Gordon makes no allusions about the darker clouds that shade his world, but his ability to confront those realities make the imbroglio all the more intriguing. "Tilt & Shine" provides a singularly roughshod read on reality.
Lee Zimmerman is a freelance writer based in Maryville, Tenn. He also expounds on music on his web site, Stories Beyond the Music - Americana Music Reviews, Interviews & Articles.