Set aside for a moment the fact that the guitar is amplified, also that the plucky instigator who wields said axe is slinging M.F.A.-yearning narratives at the mic. Disregard too that his rhythm-section mates are unquestionably at or near the top of their respective instrument games. At heart the Tin Men still epitomize the folksy, down-home realm of the New Orleans street sound.
The latest polished long-player from the Alex McMurray-Washboard Chaz-Matt Perrine guitar-washboard-sousaphone trio has been eight years in the pot. And for connoisseurs of such traditional worlds, or the lots maybe tired of the gruff, Treme-aping wannabes overtaking Royal Street, this is a plate well worth the wait. There’s food as metaphor for life’s fleeting pleasure (the syrupy title track), jivey ode to the connective tissue of the New Orleans underworld (“I Got A Guy”), and charging street gospel (“Jesus Always Gets His Man”). It turns brazenly between the ridiculous and classic—where else could McMurray’s Prine-like pen gel with a Chaz reading of Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline”?’’—and back home again (“I’ve Got Blood In My Eyes For You” is a nod as much to the Mississippi Sheiks as the Tin Men’s own jug band lineage).
The boys are tight like a professional ensemble that gigs on a weekly basis because, well, they do. But all the slinky interplay and red-hot chops are but a side dish. The familiarity of that smoking Ray Charles cover? Lagniappe. Here, what matters most is an album’s-length worth of vibe. And with Perrine’s flatulent, overfed tuba walking and farting on and on; and Chaz’ washboard rippling and chiming like Pavlov’s bell calling listeners toward happy hour, it’s an air as classic, jaunty and good-timey as New Orleans might serve.