Review: Sleepy Eyes Nelson – Unhealthy Songbook
Posted on: Friday, May 17, 2013
Sleepy Eyes Nelson – Unhealthy Songbook
(Cheap Wine Records)
Sleepy is a native of Ayrshire, in Scotland but, is now based in Glasgow and is a popular artist and regular performer on the club circuit. His confident and attractive down home Delta finger-picking is enrapturing in its uncannily evocative and resolutely comforting style; for he invokes the very deep feelings, emotions and atmosphere one would expect of a Mississippi Delta native.
All of this is created, written and recorded at home in Glasgow. Whilst listening to his particularly intimate and intricate Country Blues playing you would swear that not only are you hearing vocals and lead guitar but that you are also hearing the lead, rhythm, bass and percussion.
In all, Sleepy has featured in no less than eight albums and has collaborated on these with artists such as; Slate Dump (Jason Mathew McQuillen) of West Virginia, C.J. Marie of Missouri and Pigeon Petal of Texas.
He and his talents were discovered and signed by the American record label Devil’s Ruin in two thousand and eight; since then he has moved onto Cheap Wine Records.
Of the 20 numbers found on the album 17 are Sleepy originals; also, apart from five live recordings all the numbers have been recorded at Sleepys’ home. This lo-fi approach has certainly enhanced the overall sound, for the music is in its natural element and by accident or design is closer in feeling to artists of the past. The stories found in the numbers are wide and varied ranging from “Devil Drink Blues” and “whisky in The Mornin,’ ” melancholy, yet jaunty tales of how to lose your wife and life, one drink at a time; to the highly relevant “The Bookies Won’t Leave Me Alone,” which warns of how television, newspapers, telephones and the high street entices you in; to the subject of food tastes with “Don’t Kill That Steak,” “Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken” and “Deep Fried Pizza Blues,” Sleepy also offers you this not too enticing tale of his unpleasant experiences of travelling on the Scottish railway system with “Scotrail Blues.”
The fine atmospheric five live performances range from “Old House Covered In Blues” and “Power Cut Blues,” at The State Bar in Glasgow, to duets with Carmen Lee on “The Rats are Coming In” followed by “King Tut’s Blues,” with Slate Dump at Nitro’s, West Virginia ending with “Postman’s Blues,” and Blind Boy Fuller’s “Step it Up and Go,” at Murphy’s in Memphis Tennessee.
Although the tales are told in a thirties style virtually all the numbers are starkly resonant of life today.