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Mose Allison


The Way of the World

Produced by Joe Henry

Recorded and Mixed by Ryan Freeland









A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!


Song-writer, singer, pianist, Mose Allison knocks me out. At eighty-three, his brain’s still working, ‘as long as you keep that coffee perkin’ – an anti-chain store slant? Likely my projection’s right in Mose’s case as he cuts a neat rug of words, slipping past expectation, side-stepping anticipation, except when it comes to being anti ‘all that.’  

Yep, his is one ‘cool little cluster’ as opener ‘My Brain’ claims. Bearer of truth is Mose. Easy going piano glides expressively alongside of brushed drums. No soft-shoeing, but ever pavement philosophising, as ‘I Know You Didn’t Mean It’ bears out. Don’t we all wear inborn ‘kick me’ signs on our sleeves sometimes? This song could be dubbed ‘Enabler’s Blue Note Blues’ with its smooth guitar, satiny sax and bags of character. Let’s face it, some people literally seem to get away with murder, but it’s only cause we let them, as Mose wryly reiterates. ‘I know you didn’t mean it when you blew me up’ could be viewed as a sly anti-war statement. Sax really talks on this one, as guitar prods along, its’ finger-picking emphasizing repeated phrases to add impact to what’s being said. ’Everybody Thinks You’re An Angel’ makes so much sense it’s liable to make you feel nonsensical, not for not always spotting the obvious because let’s admit it – ‘devils always act like angles’ and mostly everybody  around them always ‘acts like they can’t see’ it. Many a Country and Western song has pointed such facts out before this, but to state truths like this in jazz/blues is Mose’s territory; his matter of fact, conversational talk singing here is really encouraging to a late starting singer like me. The sax on this one is nearly as soft, yet durable as Mose’s silky piano playing, kind of like they’re taking the mickey out of traditionally sexy sax. Like a streak windowed diner in a late night mood, that’s ‘Let It Come Down’, which seems to go hand in glove with regret. How do we compensate for such things, is what the song asks. Whatever happens, don’t lose it. Then again, there’s no way of avoiding the pangs of life. So, ‘if there’s gonna be rain tonight, let it come down,’ sings Mose. ‘Modest Proposal’ is enough to make any lapsed Catholic grin. After all, why blame the man upstairs when we curve our own paths?  Amen. ‘Let’s give God a vacation,’ says Mose, his gently factual phrasing simultaneously beguiling and clarifying. That’s the wonderous paradox of Mose’s messages, which I hesitate to merely dub ‘lyrics,’ as his excellent piano playing and ideas always marks our spots. Tinkly piano, dramatically rolling drums, then, some dramatic intensification as the musicians join forces, hurrying towards an unknown crescendo, forming an instrumental track, aptly entitled, ‘Crush.’ Slightly off kilter, drum rolled piano, revving up to wicked - it is one paradoxically cool little number. Nonchalantly sliding guitar - a semi-Texas swing gone all warped and jazzy ear-marks ‘Some Right Some Wrong’, with both sides of the coin – bible and gun toting duly noted. That’s Mose for you, always exploring sides, rather than choosing one. Though if ‘right’s got wrong on trial,’ one’s definitely looking like a better option. The title track is low down mellow in a ‘Brother Can You Spare a Dime?’ 21st century update kind of way. It’s superbly stated words are in keeping with the repetitive cycles mankind finds itself on, regardless of whether we admit it or not. But if you can’t do anything about it, grooving wouldn’t hurt the situation, as sultry sax and Mose’s tastefully restrained piano point out, with electric guitar, gently lapping like an ongoing tide in the background.  Live and let live’ is my credo too, like Mose says when he’s on the path, not looking forward or back, just moving on in ‘Ask Me Nice.’ When I was sitting on a breezy Greyhound bus in Cornwall the other day, this song played through my head in lieu of my return to London aka ‘The Big Smoke.’ Listen to it and you’ll understand, as the talking sax, piano and guitar go hand in hand down a shifting road in the break. Mose at his rocking, bluesy best – ‘Don’t try to make me what I’m not, I’m just trying to get along with what I got.’ A great song is a great song, and the Michael Edwards (lyrics by Bud Green) multi-era recorded ‘Once in a While’ is one of those songs, with the Tommy Dorsey U.S. number one having pride of place in my childish memory banks, which Mose’s gently factual interpretation looted for me, the clarity of his vocals connecting Green’s words about ‘yesterday’s memories’ connecting them to more recent remembrances. Thanks Mose – one can only benefit from easing things into perspective. I will actually, be contented with yesterday’s memories, knowing you think of me once in a while.’ You know who you are. Half stepped up, snare flared blues ‘I’m Alright’ tidies up the alleged mess we can find ourselves in after love’s burning embers have charred our hearts. We may not all fall apart in the aftermath of faded love, though in some such situations, our sanity is feigned. This is one blues song I’m definitely going to attempt to learn. Just listening to Mose singing this song makes things seem better - though electric guitar, sax and piano seem to have the last word. Mose’s singer/songwriter daughter Amy Allison joins him on vocals on the standard ‘This New Situation,’ and her unusual voice harmonizes surprisingly well with his, wafting over Mose’s punctuating piano. The instrumental intro is as elemental as a nursery rhyme, but as the song goes on, it becomes progressively more jazzy, with electric guitar underscoring the singing. Love sure is hard to fathom, especially when it drifts.

Mose Allison has been making music for over fifty years, during which time he has released thirty albums, though his latest, The Way of the World, is his first studio album for twelve years. Despite any gaps, Mose has never been gone, not for those who agree with his ethics and admire his work.  That said, it must be added that in actual fact, Mose is ‘real gone’ in the truest sense, as he’s never sold out – the bulk of his living comes, not from his own, cult releases, but from royalties passed onto him by more commercially inclined musicians who’ve been canny enough to record their own versions of his material. Mose has no argument, as long as it’s all done legally. And, as fans and musicians alike are well aware, in an increasingly sell out business, Mose tells no tales, so, as a result, his music winds up being timeless.

If you have yet to be acquainted with the sensitive, funny, full on, minstrel of truth who is Mose Allison, pick up The Way of the World – it’ll be like meeting a wry, been through the wars with you old friend.



Editors Note: You will have a rare opportunity to see Mose Allison perform live at Pizza Express on Dean Street in Soho, London   Oct. 22nd - 29th











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