Rosie Flores And The Pine Valley Cosmonauts
Girl Of The Century
Bloodshot Records 2009
I remember my first Rosie Flores album as a discovered gem in a corner of one WFMU semi-annual record fair. It was Rockabilly Filly, her tribute to Rockabilly, which has always had a strong vein throughout all of her music, but this one had a few duets with a few greats, including Janis Martin. There have even been several opportunities to attend live shows in Austin as well as a few New Year’s Eve shows the Rodeo Bar in New York City. I have no regrets in this life, but regret missing them all.
Her musical choices, whether recently written gems, or semi-forgotten classics, always seem the perfect fit, as if each album is a continuation of a previous train of musical thought. It’s her voice that caresses each song and unites one album to the next and helps us to see the words in a new way.
Girl Of The Century accomplishes that with several older songs and with at least one new Jon Langford-penned tune, but like her previous albums, the new compositions feel like classics in the presence of family. The song origins range from Blues to Country Swing to maybe one Rhythm & Blues classic. And as a first outing with the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, a collective organized by the multi-talented British punk cowboy, Jon Langford, if feels like a family reunion.
Chauffer is a Blues comforter where Flores and the Cosmonauts ease into a playful banter of voice and instruments that ease into an almost Alt-Countrypolitan standard. Flores has always navigated the Americana landscape with ease, but this may be the first time her feet have been firmly planted into her Texas Country roots. Jon Langford and Company obviously play an active roll, and for all of their punk pedigree (a genre that has always been a close cousin to roots music hyped up on stilts), they understand the more than family resemblance.
I Ain’t Got You is not that old, but it is a classic cover of Clarence Carter and his writing partner, Calvin Scott most famously covered by Eric Clapton-era Yardbirds. The lyrical gender is obviously changed here, but it’s revved up Blues, too Country to be Jump Blues, but it does jump, and there’s an odd lyrical twist towards the end that may not shock, but I was pleasantly surprised. She name checks the illustrious two-chord wonder, Mojo Nixon. I about burst when I heard it the first time.
The Jon Langford-penned, Halfway Home, is described in press materials as Maggie May-ish. which may imply Rod Stewart when he was at his prime, but there is more Country than Blues and certainly no British-Isles-Folk for miles. What seems similar is a lyrical comparison to Cut Across Shorty, an Eddie Cochran-written tune, so that comparison may be appropriate.
The keeper here is an update of the Conway Twitty-Loretta Lynn, Whose Gonna Take Your Garbage Out? The call and response from Jon Langford and Rosie Flores is what I would like to hear more of on this disc, because it works so well and they appear to be having more fun that could possibly be contained into just one song. Flores sounds like Loretta and Janis Martin by turns and Langford sounds like himself, but he obviously deserves more outings like this.
Girl Of The Century is a good Rosie Flores album, but with the Pine Valley Cosmonauts as collaborators, the potential for so much more than this, so much more than the sum of its parts never materialized.