George Ducas - Yellow Rose Motel

Loud Ranch Records

****1/2

 

If you didn't already know, George Ducas is one of the best-kept secrets on Nashville’s famed Music Row. In the mid-1990s he was signed to Capitol Records and scored a top 5 country hit with Lipstick Promises. In the intervening years he has been kept busy penning hit songs for such diverse artists as Sara Evans, Garth Brooks, the Dixie Chicks, Josh Thompson. Eli Young Band, Trisha Yearwood and George Jones. He’s also been saving some of those songs for himself, and YELLOW ROSE MOTEL collects a dozen of them. Available as a full album or as four volumes of 3-track EPs, this is an inspired return that fuses a universal outlook with highly individual songwriting. A solid collection of 1990s-inspired country and southern soul that sounds both ragged and polished at the same time, it’s a giant step forward from his earlier records, yet still retains the deep-rooted traditionalist stances that has long defined George Ducas. Each song feels more muscular, the interplay between instruments more assured, more confident showcasing his growing maturity as an artist.

He has always been hung up on writing commercial songs, but he’s writing at a time when it’s almost impossible to define the term commercial, so now he concentrates on writing. Full stop! From the empowering Don’t Leave Her Lonely which sees the singer offering advice about an ex-lover to the emotional complexity of the brooding Yellow Rose Motel, this is a deeply personal piece of work. There are plenty of lighter moments as with the raunchy Baby Mama with a real energy and feeling of joy counterpointed neatly by Old Timers, a compelling damaged country song of the most glorious order in which he radiates a timeless, unfakeable cool; tough, stoic, and magnetic.

Preachers and Pushers rocks with the tenacity and determination of one who has paid his dues across many miles on the road of life. Cold Bud and I Got This are the essence of what country music should be whilst Why Start Now snaps and pops exuberantly, zigzagging constantly, its joy infectious and its craft undeniable. Unlove You is a classic heart-breaking break-up song then he turns the coin over for Eastwood in which he promises his beau that he will love and look after her the way that the mighty Clint would.
Songs that groove and provoke thought in equal measure YELLOW ROSE MOTEL brims with musical and lyrical vitality. The guitars jangle; his vocals warble and whirl and he sounds loose, relaxed and in control. Yes, the 1990s still hang heavily over George Ducas but more than ever he elicits a breathless feeling of the here and now. So here and now, jump into one of the best modern country albums of the year so far.

www.georgeducas.com

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