Bill Kirchen & Austin de Lone Mine Archival Turf on ‘Transatlanticana’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

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kirchenThe transoceanic union of guitar wiz Bill Kirchen and pub rock veteran and keyboard player Austin de Lone makes for an auspicious occasion, especially given these artists’ individual credits and the fact that they mine mutually compatible archival turf on their striking duo debut. And yet, the fact that the two men once mined similar retro terrain — Kirchen with Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen and De Lone with the seminal British band Eggs Over Easy — gives the two a common bond that makes this collaboration seem like it’s long overdue.

The two musicians’ mutual affinity for archetypical rock ‘n’ roll ensures a certain symmetry, so it’s quite natural then that the overall sound and style of Transatlanticana stays true to both men’s pedigrees. The twist and twang of the autobiographical “Hounds of the Bakersfield,” a not so subtle tip of the proverbial hat to the late Merle Haggard, sets the tone, with the honky tonk “Wine, Wine, Wine,” the terse “Let’s Rock,” the well worn barroom ballads “Warm and Tender Love” and “Think It Over,” and a rumbling “Oxblood” each following suit. De Lone is an assertive songsmith, and weighed against the set of standards the two tap here, original compositions like “Already Walking,” “No Need For Knocking” and “All Tore Up” actually sound like standards.

Still, the album’s unequivocal standout is a remarkable bluegrass-tinged take on “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” one that ranks as one of the best treatments of this timeless classic ever committed to tape. It’s tough to make a Dylan tune sound fresh and invigorated, yet Kirchen and De Lone do exactly that. Ultimately, it’s a credit to the assembled musicians gathered on both sides of the Atlantic that Transatlanticana resonates in the way that it does.

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