Album Review – Stevie Tombstone “Slow Drunken Waltz”

Originally from Atlanta, Stevie Tombstone is a longtime veteran of underground roots circles dating all the way back to the 80’s and his “Swamprockabilly” band The Tombstones. He toured with Jason & The Scorchers in Europe, and has put out CD’s and EP’s here and there as he’s bounced back and forth between Nashville, Austin, and Atlanta, until most recently in the summer of 2011 he put out his latest album Slow Drunken Waltz.

This short and simple 9-song album is an absolute gem. No frills, and none are needed. Some albums employ simplicity because of restrictions put on the artist: budgetary, time, or otherwise. But Slow Drunken Waltz‘s simplicity is purposeful, and with songs this powerful, there’s no need for fleshing them out; this might endanger the suppleness of the songwriting that is emphasized by the space and the sincerity highlighted by the void of excessive instrumentation.

But the instrumentation that does exist strikes that excellent balance between letting a song breathe but not leaving it so bare it lacks accessibility. The music is adept, but also smart and simple, like with the little fiddle instrumental “The Tryin’ Waltz” that instead of using technique to engage the ear, uses taste and tone. And the vocals too, they don’t call on any silly inflections or phony pretentiousness for attention. They are refreshingly straight, solidly “Stevie Tombstone”, just singing as he does, and adds yet another layer of sincerity to the Slow Drunken Waltz.

And overall, I just think it is cool how Tombstone takes the “waltz” theme and champions it here as a very important and viable form of musical expression in country music that many either overlook or don’t understand because of it’s frilly connotation. This album just has tremendous class, without sacrificing some of the dirtiness and edge to still make it feel authentic.

Not a bad song on the album, I could see the title track “Slow Drunken Waltz” and “Don’t Know What I’m Gonna Do” being scooped up by another band and fleshed out into superb little music monsters, though they work excellent as offered here. “Would You Die For Love” once again works off of the simplicity theme by being deep without being wordy, while “I’ve Been Down That Rocky Road” evokes a great gospel vibe.

Though “less is more” seems like such a worn out saw in music, in this case its wisdom worked expertly, in the approach and amount of content offered. 9 great little numbers many times is better than 12 good ones, or 11 great ones with one bad one thrown in. This stripped-back approach may not be best for all artists, but with the Slow Drunken Waltz it pays off in spades. I refuse to call this album an EP. It’s lesson is one many LP’s could learn from: to listen to the music and give it what it needs, nothing more, nothing less.

Two guns up!

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Stevie Tombstone is currently on tour.

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