Michael Hurtt is an old soul. I used to speculate he’d landed in the present from a time machine constructed sometime between 1950 and 1965. The music on Come Back To Louisiana perfectly encapsulates this theory; it’s about half covers and half originals that fit in so perfectly, you’d never know they were newly written songs.
And these covers are obscure, i.e., you won’t find too much about these artists on the Internet (except for the two YouTube uploads I found of 1959 45s “Have A Ball” by The Country Dudes and “Ain’t No Sign I Wouldn’t If I Could” by Ford Nix).
So what do these songs sound like? More well-known points of reference would be Western or Texas Swing (Bob Wills, Spade Cooley), Honky Tonk (Hank Williams), Rock and Roll (Scotty Moore, Duane Eddy), and Rockabilly (Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins).
The opener and title track, if you will, is in fact a cover of a terrific 1963 song by Rockabilly Hall of Famer and Louisiana native Jay Chevalier. The other covers are equally terrific. The Haunted Hearts treat us to the bawdy “She Won’t Turn Over For Me” by Tommy Odim (1961) and it’s hard not to laugh out loud when hearing the hilarious double entendres contained within. This song was originally released by Fortune Records, a label out of Detroit, who also released music by the aforementioned Ford Nix as well as label co-founder Devora Brown, whose “You Can’t Stop Me From Loving You” is also covered here. Whitey Knight’s “Another Brew, Bartender” and Tommy Scott’s “Juke Joint Girl” are two more winners on the album, perfect for Hurtt’s voice, which is also something from another time and place.
But where Michael Hurtt and His Haunted Hearts truly display their talents are on the original numbers. “Mean, Mean Moon” is haunting, while “I Dreamed By Starlight” features Hurtt’s trademark crooning and some beautiful guitar work. There is also straight up, vintage rock and roll in “Hey Little Tornado” which you should definitely play at your next party.
The musicianship on here is outstanding. “I’m Not Going Down With The Ship” has lovely pedal steel guitar and “My Last Go ‘Round” includes stand up bass (courtesy of Haunted Hearts Mitch Palmer and John Trahey, respectively). And there is even the unapologetic “I Can’t Say I’m Sorry (For Being Myself),” which should be the band’s signature tune (or at least Hurtt’s).
The album ends with the mournful and foreboding “Trouble On The Road,” co-written by Jay Chevalier and John Trahey. It’s got an almost bluesy, Johnny Cash vibe to it, but despite its sad overtones, there is a note of hope, too. Considering that The Haunted Hearts (and Chevalier himself) were all impacted by Hurricane Katrina, one gets the feeling they know how to deal with that trouble: keep making wonderful music. - By Less Lee Moore
1. Come Back to Louisiana 2. I'm Not Going Down With the Ship 3. I Can't Say I'm Sorry (for Being Myself) 4. She Won't Turn Over For Me 5. Mean, Mean Moon 6. I Dreamed By Starlight 7. I'm On My Last Go 'round 8. Have a Ball 9. Ain't No Sign I Wouldn't If I Could 10. Another Brew, Bartender 11. You Can't Stop Me From Loving You 12. Juke Joint Girl 13. Hey Little Tornado 14. Trouble On the Road
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