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Tony Joe White The Heroines Review

Album. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

Jessi Colter's vocal is almost enough to make you forget that it's all starting to...

Sue Keogh 2004

In keeping with White's thirty year recording career, The Heroines is a soulful and swampy affair.

He first came to prominence in 1969 with "Polk Salad Annie", but has really earned his place in popular music history for his calibre as a songwriter for other people, providing hits for Brook Benton ("Rainy Night In Georgia"), Dusty Springfield ("Willie and Laura Mae Jones") and Tina Turner, to whose celebrated 1989 album Foreign Affairs he contributed four songs. Along the way he's recorded with Ray Charles, Isaac Hayes, Roy Orbison, Hank Williams Jr. and countless other stars from the worlds of r'n'b and country.

His time spent as a session musician and songwriter means that this expert lyricist and nimble guitarist has become accustomed to staying in the background. Plus thirty odd years of hanging out with rock'n'rollers has left a mark on the old boy's singing voice (it's so wobbly on "Playa Del Carmen Nights" that it's fortunate that his daughter, emerging artist Michelle White, is on hand to carry the song).

White gives centre stage to some of his Heroines throughout, and it's these duets with queens of Americana - Lucinda Williams, Shelby Lynne, Emmylou Harris, singer and Waylon Jenning's widow Jessi Colter - which are easily the standout tracks on this album.

"Can't Go Back Home" is typically deep and brooding, with a pounding bassline and Shelby Lynne's sultry vocal giving credence to a tale of a smalltown girl who knows her dreams won't be realised until she moves on. "Closing In On The Fire" is all trumpets, hooky bassline and Lucinda Williams in raw, hot and sweaty mode.

It goes without saying that Emmylou Harris adds a touch of class and an authentic lonesome feel to "Wild Wolf Calling", and Jessi Colter's vulnerable and fervent vocal on "Fireflies In The Storm" is almost enough to make you forget that it's all starting to sound like Chris Rea...

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