Anybody who has read a few of these blog pages will have realised by now that I like a spot of Americana.
My favourite UK label, Clubhouse Records, are purveyors of top quality British Americana with UK bands such as The Redland Palomino Company. However, this year they have signed two American artists, the young Texan Country singer Cale Tyson and the true Nashville based singer /songwriter Don Gallardo. And do you know what? Clubhouse sure know how to pick a winner.
The authentic Nashville tones come flooding out of Don Gallardo's latest album Hickory.
And if your hear a better Americana album in 2015, then I'll eat my stetson.
Hailing originally from Northern California and now resident in Nashville - Don has even had a song featured in the Hit TV show based on his adopted hometown. Don has released albums with his band How Far West and they are all over this, Don's debut solo release.
Hickory contains a sheen and swagger that make the majority of the songs radio-friendly. It's more athentically 'Southern', for want of a better word, than the majority of the songs that you will find featured on the Nashville TV show - and there are some mighty fine songs that have appeared through that show.
Hear Don talk about the album on his EPK (Electronic Press Kit) on the video below.
The album opens with the delicious Down In The Valley. With a voice like velvet, Don sings this plaintive ballad to the sound of dobro, pedal steel & fiddle. It's a brilliant opening track and sets up the rest of the album perfectly.
Don has a fabulous voice and in the next track, Diamonds & Gold, his gentle vocal leads the listener through a track based around a dobro and piano shuffle.
'Some days are diamonds and some are gold'
I'm not going to write a track by track breakdown of the whole album as I like to leave it to the listener to enjoy the process of discovering the songs for themselves but i can give you a flavour of what the album contains and hope you will seek it out and enjoy the same experience as I did.
There are some lovely surprises contained within Hickory - one being the slinky sax that features in the song Midnight Sounds. Not an instrument that you find in many Nashville records but one that you do find in Country Soul. And there are some classic, understated Country Soul moments contained within Hickory.
I have to make a confession here - I have had this album for a few months after going to see Don play a gig in Bristol, so I've lived with it for a while and let it's beauty seep into my ears.
Although Don has a velvet voice, he can also make it sound pleading and soulful, as in Banks Of The Mississippi. Looking at the album as a whole - Country Soul is a good definition for the sounds contained within. If you enjoyed albums such as Southeastern by Jason Isbell, then I think you might enjoy Hickory.
But Hickory still has it's pure Country moments such as the jaunty The North Dakota Blues.
'Shot's went out and a man went down'
There's nothing like a good Country redemption song - and fans of this type of song are well catered for with the quietly magnificent A Cup Of Rain.
'When the stars hold me down and the night pulls me in'
But don't think the album doesn't have it's lighter moments, Angel On The Dancefloor once again breaks out the sax for an uptempo stroll across those line dancing boards.
And the Honky Tonk sounds of Will We Ever Get It Right will get your foot tapping and giving it some air piano.
The album closes with the another stately, confessional song in the pedal steel and organ draped Pearls. A real Country song for the purists out there.
'One thing's for sure, I never promised you pearls, darling'
There are some really beautiful moments contained within Hickory - it has classic Country songs, a deep resonance and superb musicianship. But would you expect anything less coming out of Nashville these days?
But a lot of the Nashville output does not have the authenticity or the depth of songwriting chops that is contained in Hickory. This is not songwriting by committee but the voice of a man comfortable in his skin and with something to say.
But don't just take my word for it - check out what other reviewers more qualified than myself have to say about Hickory
Now go and do yourself a favour and purchase a copy of Hickory. Your ears will thank you for it.
Twitter - @dongallardoband