Doug Wamble: Country Libations (2003)
Doug Wamble pours out an eclectic and genuine offering of rich music on his debut release, Country Libations. With an interesting swirl of delta blues, gospel music, and strong jazz elements, the music has both rural and urban appeal. The guitarist and composer has a youthful appearance but plays and sings like an aged master. He has recorded and performed with notables such as Wynton Marsalis and Cassandra Wilson, and delivers strong fret board chops whether on acoustic flattop or slide guitar. Backed by a skilled band, it’s the authenticity of his playing and sound that makes the recording unique.
The first two selections are a good premise for the overall tone of the recording, beginning with Libation No. 1, entitled “Back of Hymnal.” It features music from a church setting with its spiritual-like piano intro and earnest vocal intonations by Wamble. This segues into Libation, No. 2 – “Trouble, Lord,” where Wamble and the band intersperse funky blues vocals with swinging jazz solos.
The quartet on the record brings the right mood to the music, with down-home violin and piano solos on the lovely anthem “If I Fall.” The musicians feel comfortable with selections like Libation No. 4 – “Ain't Quite Four This...”, with its straight up gut-wrenching delta blues. They also flow with melodic ease on the impressive "Sweet Magnolia Tree," revealing that Wamble is equally proficient delivering rich vocals as playing his axe.
The selections vary in style from the jazz swinger “Dim Tangy Tennessee Twangs,” which could be classified as a country jazz instrumental, to the soulfully rustic Libation No. 7 – “Along the Way.” The surprise selection is the remake of the '70s super group The Police’s hit song “Walking on the Moon,” which features a unique arrangement as well as a guest performance by artist and producer Branford Marsalis on soprano sax.
The music industry will have a difficult time labeling this music. Is it country, jazz, blues, gospel, or all of the above? Whatever the classification, its sum is equal to its individual parts: Just plain good music.
Track Listing: 1. Libation, No. 1 - Back of Hymnal 2. Libation, No. 2 - Trouble, Lord 3. Baby, if You're Lyin' 4. Libation, No. 4 - Ain't Quite Four This... 5. Libation, No. 5 - Ranura del Campo 6. Dim Tangy Tennessee Twang 7. Libation, No. 7 - Along the Way 8. The Sweet Magnolia Tree 9. Walking on the Moon 10. If I Fall 11. Back to the River
Personnel: Doug Wamble - guitar, vocals; Charles Burnham - violin; Peter Miles - percussion,drums; Jeremy Hanley - bass; Guest Branford Marsalis - soprano sax, tambourine