Blood and Candle Smoke
Tom Russell packs a novel’s worth of reflections, traveler’s tales, and experience into the 12 epic songs on Blood and Candle Smoke. (His tunes have been covered by the likes of Johnny Cash, Guy Clark, Nanci Griffith, and k.d. lang during his 40 year career.) Here he’s backed by Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico, along with Gretchen Peters on gorgeous backing vocals, and together they create a warm and spacious blend of cowboy songs, Tex Mex, country, blues, and folk. “East of Woodstock, West of Vietnam” and “Criminology” vividly detail Russell's adventures in Nigeria, “Crosses of San Carlos” reflects on American Indians past and present, and “Mississippi River Runnin’ Backwards” is set in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. He also sings about Mother Jones (“The Most Dangerous Woman In America”) and Nina Simone and sprinkles in lines of American traditional songs like a man who has earned the right to borrow freely from the canon — which he has. Blood and Candle Smoke reveals an expert songwriter and storyteller at the top of his game.