TIM STAFFORD, JUST TO HEAR THE WHISTLE BLOW
Hedge Drive Records
Tim Stafford had a hand in writing all but “Red Wing” among these 14 tracks. All five of the original instrumentals he wrote solo, each stylistically different and several worthy of extra mention, including “Father Nelson,” a minor-key fiddle tune that is probably the most traditional and most propulsive tune here. The opener, “Whiskey Island,” a little slower and more flowing, leans also to tradition. By contrast, “Poodle On The Dashboard” uses a blues form, over which its off-kilter melody bops along rhythmically with joyful solos all around from Adam Steffey, Stuart Duncan, Ron Stewart, and Barry Bales.
Stafford also wrote the vocal number, “Dimes.” Gently portraying a father’s obsession with finding dimes, a practice that his son eventually carries on as a way of remembrance, this piece is instantly likeable. So, too, are three of the co-written pieces, such as the title track written with Steve Gulley, in which an old man ponders the ordinary and safe life he’s led in his hometown. His nemesis is the train he never jumped, and though his acknowledgement of having chosen correctly gives him some relief, he can’t let it go, leaving us to wrestle with our own missed chances. More tongue-in-cheek and quirky is “Hideaway Hotel,” a song centered on a Tom Waits-like landscape and told from the perspective of a rundown hotel. The clever lyrics and sinuous, rock-tinged setting exert a strong, entertaining pull. Both pale, however, beside the track “Worry’s Like A Rocking Chair,” written with Barry Bales. Sung by Marty Raybon, the short phrases and beat of the chorus get in your ear and stay there, driving home the song’s positive message—good melody, good thought, and hard to shake, as is much of this album. (Tim Stafford, P.O. Box 7411, Kingsport, TN 37664, www.timstaffordguitar.com.)BW