New Tattoo

New Tattoo

4.6 3
by John Cowan
     
 

At the close of this beautifully realized album, John Cowan reveals a dark secret concerning childhood sexual abuse. The brittle piano ballad "Drown" is at once a moment of painful confession, spiritual despair, and triumphant survival as Cowan, his voice crying out, vows never to let another child suffer. It's an unsettling, provocative coda that lingers on in memory… See more details below

Overview

At the close of this beautifully realized album, John Cowan reveals a dark secret concerning childhood sexual abuse. The brittle piano ballad "Drown" is at once a moment of painful confession, spiritual despair, and triumphant survival as Cowan, his voice crying out, vows never to let another child suffer. It's an unsettling, provocative coda that lingers on in memory -- not so much for its explicit rendering of horror but for his restraint when a fiery, unforgiving howl seems more than appropriate. Throughout New Tattoo, though, Cowan sings with a passion tempered by experience but unfettered in its expressiveness. His band is strictly aces -- banjo player Luke Pikelny and fiddlers/mandolinists Wayne Benson and Luke Bulla especially stand out -- and Cowan, on bass, delivers the goods again and again vocally. On the driving bluegrass of "Carla's Got a New Tattoo," the bluesy yin-yang of "Misery & Happiness," the laid-back country folk groove and melodic pop grandeur of the breakup song "Hurting Sure," and the restless shuffle of "Working in a New Mine," Cowan finds the heart of the matter and roots it out, belting determined phrases when the band revs it up or letting his warm, personable tenor caress the reflective passages of love songs just so, in order to make the ache or the exultation near palpable; the delicate determination he brings to the heart-tugging song of devotion "Back to Your Arms" is the stuff of masterful vocalizing. New Tattoo is here for the duration.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
While John Cowan gained his rep in New Grass Revival during the '70s and '80s, his vocal style has always owed more to Robert Plant than Bill Monroe. That makes him much more expressive than the average bluegrass singer, and along with Tim O'Brien, one of the genre's most exciting vocalists. As a soloist, however, his career has never quite taken off. Perhaps that's because albums like 2000's John Cowan and 2002's Always Take Me Back proved too bombastic for even the progressive bluegrass crowd and still too traditionally tinged for the rock crowd. With 2006's New Tattoo, the John Cowan Band have taken a step back, first jumping to a more conservative label (Pinecastle) and secondly sticking closer to acoustic instruments. The results place Cowan closer to New Grass Revival material than he's been since the band broke up, and will be a welcome change for old fans. On the downside, the material -- most of it written by other writers -- lacks the spunk and edge that made John Cowan and Always Take Me Back intense (though perhaps over-produced). Even on a jewel like Darrell and Wayne Scott's "With a Memory Like Mine," Cowan's version lacks emotional depth when compared to Darrell Scott's take on 2000's Real Time with Tim O'Brien. New Tattoo nonetheless has much to recommend it, with excellent vocals and instrumental work, and will receive a warm welcome by longtime Cowan fans.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/13/2006
Label:
Pinecastle
UPC:
0755757115223
catalogNumber:
571152
Rank:
276333

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

John Cowan   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Electric Bass,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Acoustic Bass,6-string bass,Group Member
Giles Reaves   Percussion,Guest Appearance
Mickey Raphael   Harmonica,Bass Harmonica,Guest Appearance
Luke Bulla   Fiddle,Mandolin,Vocals,Background Vocals,Group Member
Patty Griffin   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Jay Joyce   Electric Guitar,Keyboards,Guest Appearance
Darrell Scott   Piano,Guest Appearance
Wayne Benson   Mandolin,Vocals,Background Vocals,Group Member
Jeff Autry   Bouzouki,Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Bazouki,Group Member
Shad Cobb   Fiddle,Vocals,Background Vocals,Group Member
Bryn Bright   Cello,Guest Appearance
Noam Pikelny   Banjo

Technical Credits

Giles Reaves   Engineer
Paul Buchanan   Composer
John Cowan   Composer
Jim DeMain   Mastering
Andy Evans   Executive Producer
Jay Joyce   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Colin Linden   Composer
Tom Riggs   Executive Producer
Darrell Scott   Composer
Mark Simos   Composer
Eddie Lynn Snodderly   Composer
Jim Weider   Composer
Bob Lucas   Composer
Robbie Fulks   Composer
Keith Sewell   Composer
Jason Hall   Engineer
Michael Kelsh   Composer

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