Harry Bodine, Travellin’ the Southland (EP) (Independent)

Harry Bodine, Travellin' the Southland, album cover

There’s always been a kinship between New Orleans and Austin, Texas—Cyril Neville, Marcia Ball, the Iguanas and Theresa Andersson are among the musicians who’ve lived in both cities. So it makes sense that Austin songwriter/guitarist Bodine would team up with a pair of Louisiana standbys, subdudes members John Magnie and Steve Amedee, on his second solo CD after a stint with the band Delta Roux.

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Bodine sounds like a man who’s done some hard travelin’, but hasn’t given into world-weariness just yet. The opening title track is a close cousin to John Hiatt’s “Memphis in the Meantime,” the kind of open road song that makes you eager to hit the ignition. “Can’t Get Love Right” is less about the singer’s romantic screw-ups than his willingness to give it another shot. “Now I See” is about feeling the spirit of a lost friend, a topic he pulls off without overdoing the sentiment (and the gospel-esque chorus doesn’t hurt). The instrumental “Graceful Moves” has a late-night cantina feel and allows Magnie to play some conjuncto accordion.

The subdudes’ instrumental contributions generally take a backseat to Bodine’s slide guitar, which is most obviously influenced by Sonny Landreth—his tone is a dead ringer on “Can’t Get Love Right.” Amedee plays the full drum kit instead of his usual tambourine, but keeps his parts characteristically spare; Magnie’s piano bits are also nicely understated. But the two ‘dudes leave a mark on the vocal harmonies. They always appreciated a slow-burning tune with a rousing chorus, and they get some good ones here.