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Will Kimbrough

I Like It Down Here – 2019 (Soundly)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Will Kimbrough

Will Kimbrough is best known as a session and touring guitarist with such artists as Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris, but with "I Like It Down Here" the Nashville-based multi-instrumentalist serves up his eighth solo release. There is a dark mood through much of the album particularly with "Alabama," the grim true story of the 1981 lynching of Michael Donald conveyed via the omniscient narration of the victim ("Those men went down/Justice did prevail/But I'm still gone").

Equally haunting is "Buddha Blues," the tale of a hardened murderer ("I was born an angry man/This is all I know/I gave up on the human kind/A long, long time ago") who late in life finds comfort in religion ("For a long time I was dying/Blind but now I see/Locked up here for all my days/I am finally free"). The bluesy "It's A Sin" evokes Atticus Finch ("Daddy says it's a sin to kill mockingbirds/I think one just fell at my feet"), while in "Anything Helps," a homeless man projects optimism ("Don't feel sorry for my lot/I give thanks for what I've got").

With the title track the Mobile, Ala. native professes his fondness for the south despite some negative attributes ("I like it down here with the hobos and the drunks/The hard bitten rabble with their leaving trunks/Blood in my mud and sawdust in my beer"). The uptempo country rocker "I'm Not Running Away" extols the virtue of a rambling lifestyle ("I always did like running/I never did know why/Maybe it's the closest thing a man can get to flying").

Kimbrough produced and wrote or co-wrote all the tracks while also providing much of the instrumentation (guitar, bass, harmonica, keyboards) with notable contributions from Anthony Crawford (steel guitar) and Jim Hoke (saxophone). After two decades in music, this effort should give the celebrated sideman some of the attention he deserves as a singer/songwriter.