Tony Kamel – Back Home
The next waltz – September 24, 2021
Tony Kamel, whose first album Back Down Home was released, dropped out of a high-paying career in medical sales nine years ago to make music full-time with Wood & Wire. A decision he has not regretted for a minute. As he points out, “It didn't feel risky to me at all. It felt like a huge success and a privilege just to have the opportunity to make a modest living playing music. ”The fact that the band's North of Despair was nominated for a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album suggests this that he made a good decision.
Beginning with the counting of “Amen”, tradition comes into play, even if tradition is not always followed to the letter. You can almost see people stepping onto the dance floor as a camel, and his compatriots use the piano, lap steel, and horns to present their take on the trials and tribulations of life. Shit, the percussion is even played on a Yeti Cup while Kamel says, "It's been a long hard week / a long hard month / it's been a long hard year / hard times are nothing new here."
Recorded in the bunker, Bruce Robison's all-analog studio in Lockhart, Texas, on a two-inch tape in a studio with computers or glass, he and Kamel created something completely unique in just a few days. One of the quieter numbers, “Who am I Kidding,” suggests that Kamel is at a crossroads as he contemplates careers other than music. "I chose my way and sang / From nine to five / Is that good or bad / Some days I can't make up my mind / But I really enjoyed the ride." He knows very well that he will continue, but it does doubts remain.
"Heat" offers a swampy, soul-infested view of life around the Texas and Louisiana coasts. The song grooves as much as it can, violin and piano play on the baritone sax. This is followed by a slow Cajun waltz, "The Surfer". Slide guitar and accordion only add to the structural complexity of the song. Kamel plays in so many different styles and yet retains a bluegrass sensibility that each track opens up new possibilities.
With "Rueben’s Train", a kind of bluegrass standard, Kamel explores the traditions and combines lyrics from several different versions of the song while adding some new ones of his own. This is just the beginning, however, as it adds both electric guitar and drums to the traditional picking circle. He respects tradition, but does not allow himself to be restricted by it. For music to be really alive, it has to be able to overcome the boundaries of the past.
The last song on Back Down Home, “Change,” plays out like an old Appalachian lawsuit, but there's a bit of hope in a number that was written after his father's death. Amid the sadness of his singing and the sad tones of Noah Jeffries' violin, there is also a glimmer of hope: "But the darkness will not linger / And the light shines strong / Change is coming."
Since Tony Kamel entered the bluegrass world after a venture into the business world, he appears to have a healthy respect for traditions without being tied to them. As a result, Back Down Home is a richer experience just because it doesn't adhere to a specific genre.
Tony intends to release an accompanying podcast soon that will include conversations with the people who brought the album to life, as well as other artists, delving into some of the deeper facets of the album's theme, the Gulf Coast, back to the present, Jobs , Overcoming sudden changes and more.
He plans to publish the first episode at the end of September / beginning of October. More here- http: //www.tonykamelmusic.com/
Photo by: Josh Abel