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Rained on Rooster
Steve Cagle, Broadcaster
KVMR FM Community Radio
Nevada City, California
Slim Bawb “ Don’t Know When To Quit” Swampgrass Records, 12/1/20
It’s been three years since Slim Bawb’s last album, and while it’s certainly been worth the wait, that’s a long stretch for Bawb! But he’s hardly been sitting on his laurels. Slim Bawb has firmly established himself on the highly competitive and way crowded local music scene in the greater Austin area thanks to years of relentless performing, an impressive feat.
“Don’t Know When To Quit” may be Slim Bawb’s most mature album to date, but don’t phrase it that way to him in case he takes offence to the notion of growing old or growing up. And don’t fret, Slim Bawb fans, it’s got all the bayou ballads and Cajun party tunes you expect to hear and it’s loaded with Bawb’s wry rural humor and fishing wader wisdom, so he hasn’t abandoned his loyal following. To this reviewer, it just seems like there’s a bit more substance than substances on this go-round.
Between this record and 2017’s excellent “Rooster,” it’s possible that Slim Bawb spent time digging deeper into his existential well in order to ponder more on the holistic human condition than on the condition that occurs after a night of hard partying and debauchery. This would explain why many of these new songs deal with the id rather than the egad. You never know, it might be worthwhile to get on Bawb’s email list in case he decides to address these topics via an ivy league university lecture tour someday.
Let’s get down to the gristle. Slim Bawb and Lil’ Howard Yeargan, his longtime cohort in creating country-fried, Cajun-spiced, grass-fed, swamp-infused Texas-tendered tunes, have scared up another batch of almost all-original and near perfect songs to add to the canon of Slim Bawb masterworks. Rounding out the lineup is frequent collaborator Ron Sherrod on drums and percussion.
The album kicks off with the swamp-soaked soul of the title track, sounding like the Four Tops in fishing waders, with shimmering vocal harmonies and fatback organ fills hovering on a smoothly groovin’ melody. Without wasting a song break, Slim and company quickly dive on to the front porch for the autobiographical “Kimberlina,” a nostalgic tale of skipping school, shooting hoops and unsuccessfully attempting to impress a schoolgirl.
Lil’ Howard deserves kudos for immortalizing vintage TV’s most radical character in song. His ode to “Earnest T” of Andy Griffith Show fame is a reverent tribute to the rock-throwing yayhoo, with Lil’ Howard’s symphonic accordion lending an air of dignity to the proceedings, even as a sampled Gomer Pyle hollers, ”surprise, surprise, surprise!”
“Katydid” is classic Cajun funk in the Slim Bawb tradition, while the bittersweet ballad, “One That Got Away,” has the musical trappings of a slow country ballad. The breezy Lil’ Howard-penned instrumental, “Nutria,” glides along on an accordion melody and steady flowing bass and drum rhythm. A pair of back-to-back songs - “Let’M Know” and “That Ain’t Right” - offer sound advice about the value of communicating with others and one’s self respectively. They’re followed by a bluesy swamp stomper wherein an incessantly complaining companion is warned to change her tune or her other half’s “Gone Pecan.”
In the up tempo, reso-driven blues “Suffer No Fools,” the antagonized protagonist lays down the law to the space-invading annoyers causing his grief, among them a gaggle of kids cavorting on his lawn who are about to receive a serious sprinkler-soaking for their crime.
“Sweet Music” is a banjo-intensive paean to the healing powers of its subject, rendered in colorful verse and sweeping cinematic musical style, and embellished with deep, dramatic choral accompaniment, making this Slim Bawb’s most epic song to date. Would he consider following in the footsteps of Robbie Robertson or Mark Knopfler and become a composer of movie soundtracks? Is anyone planning to do a remake of “Deliverance?” (It had banjo music, remember?)
For the grand finale, Slim and band head for the hoe down, with a medley of sorts but primarily a high energy song by his sometimes musical collaborator, Steve Judice, called “Zydeco,” that has to be a dancefloor magnet when performed live. It intersperses with a momentary, pace-changing drop into the turnout lane called “Butt Thing” before fish-tailing back into the fast lane for the concluding dancefloor demolition.
Before the album is a total wrap, while the smoke clears and dancers crawl from the rubble thanks to the previous tune, we’re treated to a brief instrumental reprise of the slow country ballad, “One That Got Away,” with the abbreviated title “Got Away.” It’s a short and sweet blood pressure-lowering moment to mellow down easy, and maybe give you a second wind to hit the “Replay” button.
Slim Bawb has expanded his intellectual reach somewhat with this album, still, his fans and future fans will be very pleased with it. And if this is your introduction to the Slim Bawb Experience, you can always dive into his back catalog, where there’s nary a note to disappoint and more than plenty to keep you dancin’ and smilin’.