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Son of the Velvet Rat - Dorado (Fluff and Gravy Records)
Georg Altziebler and Heike Binder have created a work of sprawling, melancholy beauty with DORADO that is, at once, a dusty landscape painting and a gritty dime store paperback. Consider Cooper Hill, a song that blends inspirations from the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and Tom Russell but shimmers most brightly with Georg's original songwriting and knack for spine-tingling chord changes. Blood Red Shoes, featuring backing vocals from American singer songwriter Victoria Williams, may be Leonard Cohen-esque but there's an infectious freshness in Georg's emotive vocal, albeit delightfully cracked and weather-worn, that makes the song shine. And whilst much of the album is dedicated to sun-dried, sand-covered songs that play like short flickering films, there comes the occasional glistening oasis such as the upbeat Surfer Joe with its punchy percussion and zesty guitar riffs.
It's no surprise that this husband and wife team, who go by the intriguing name of Son of the Velvet Rat, have upped and left their native Austria to set up home in Joshua Tree. The American landscape has clearly deposited plenty of grit in their bloodstreams. Whilst DORADO showcases the superlative songwriting talents of Georg Altziebler, it also features some fine playing from organist, accordionist and vocalist Heike Binder, pianist Patrick Warren, bassist David Piltch, guitarist Adam Levy and drummer Jay Bellerose, as well as guest appearances by such artists as fiddler Bob Furgo and guitarist Gar Robertson.