Deacon John, “Crowded Shotgun House” (Independent)

deacon-johnDeacon John brilliantly digs into some new territory by recording a couple of tunes by Neil Finn, the leader of the now-defunct Australian band Crowded House, on this cleverly titled, two-cut “CD single,” Crowded Shotgun House. The star of the recording is Deacon’s passionately delivered “Don’t Dream It’s Over” that showcases his vocal range—he goes for and hits those high notes—and the sincerity he brings to the project, and his ability to make any song his own. With its still timely lyrics about dividing people—“They want to build a wall between us”—it could easily be imagined that “Don’t Dream” was written just for Deacon John, just the other day.

Deacon sounds right at home with drummer Herlin Riley setting the rhythm with the tap of his sticks on the inspiring “Don’t Dream.” Riley employs a cowbell to open “Something So Strong,” a catchy, up-tempo number that would be considered the “B-Side” in the days of 45 rpms. Organist and pianist Craig Adams knows just how to accompany Deacon’s vocals to maximize the emotion impact of “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” He also leads the choir, the Craig Adams Singers, who help lift the spirit when they and Deacon sing the words at the heart of the song, “Hey now, hey now, don’t dream it’s over.” Deac then comes back with the positive sentiment, “We won’t let them win.”

The band also includes, of course, Deacon’s brother, Charles Moore on bass, and two Nashville guitarists, Will Kimbrough and Clay Williams, with the saxophone of Jim Hoke added on “Something So Strong.” Both Riley and Adams shine during solos on this number.

Crowded Shotgun House and the wonderful video of “Don’t Dream It’s Over” were produced by Cyril Vetter, who brought the world Deacon John’s iconic Jump Blues recording and documentary. Both he and Deacon hope to visit this “residence” again. So should folks who have been passionately welcomed there by the great voice of Deacon John.