Tommy Stinson Should need no introduction however there might well be a whole generation who’ve not had the chance to appreciate the genius of his work be it as an integral member of The Replacements or his solo work, Perfect, Bash & Pop or as a member of Guns N Roses or Soul Asylum. His catalogue of work is extensive as its magnificent and has stretched over four decades. is a revered American musician who has enjoyed a significant four-decade-plus career. He’s appeared on recordings by the Old 97’s, Moth, and BT, plus played bass on Puff Daddy’s ‘It’s All About the Benjamins (Rock Remix)’. There you go kids go look that lot up and then bow down at his feet.

Stinson’s latest venture is Cowboys in the Campfire. A duo with Chip Roberts, their debut album ‘Wronger’ is Americana as apple pie or a star-spangled banner, and whilst he’s dabbled at various points it’s always been fleeting. This bad boy is on a well-trodden trail on horseback with his buddy and they’re suckin’ on cigars and twanging them strings be it Ukulele, pedal steel, or yeehaw, sorry I mean guitar. The very first song, ‘Here We Go Again’, sets the tone; Stinson is on ukulele, singing about the ardors of creativity, while horns swell and the only hint of percussion is from the tapping of feet by the musicians in the room. Toss another log on that there fire boy.

An obvious hanging post would be some Steve Earle and of course, Johnny Cash it’s broad and passionate from the rough ‘n’ ready rockabilly of ‘That’s It’ its a thigh slapping salamander stick thumping banger. ‘We Ain’t’, is authentic and heartfelt, and that’s what draws you in. Other songs such as ‘Schemes’, ‘Souls’ and lead single ‘Dream’ prove the man’s genius at this here songwriting thang be it punk rock or pop and some country has got the whole shooting match sorted. what an ace pop songwriter Stinson still is. If this is the best ten songs he had then his work here is done and he knows it’s nailed.

The genesis of Cowboys in the Campfire actually dates back over a decade. Roberts is the uncle of one of Stinson’s exes and was previously a gun-for-hire guitar slinger. “We’ve been really good friends and writing partners pretty much since we met, writing rock tunes to ballads or country or Americana,” explains Stinson. Neither expected their association to become a going musical concern, but the mid-2010s saw a Guns N’ Roses hiatus prior to Stinson venturing into Replacements and Bash & Pop reunions, so things got a little more serious. “We thought, ‘Let’s go play some shows and fuck around.’ I took some songs he and I had written together, some of my solo stuff, some covers, some other stuff of mine he plays.”

‘Schemes’ is a lush ballad with a swirling organ and a gently picked guitar with a tear-jerking vocal melody superbly delivered. Hell, they could have headed to Memphis and locked themselves away in an office out the back of Sun Studio and worked 9 to 5 to get these done and the living breathing proof would have to be ‘Fall Apart Together’. After only having the briefest time together listening to this I’m sure some Stinson fans will be disappointed it’s not a full-throttled rocker but given time to get used to it I’m sure they’ll appreciate its songwriting genius or if they’re sad about it they can listen to the tear-jerking ‘Hey Man’.

By the time we get to ‘We Ain’t,’ the guys in the band are cooking and there’s plenty of meat on the bone with some lovely twanging going down over the solid acoustic chords. As the album moves gracefully to its finale with ‘Souls’ via some wonderful hazy slide guitar.

This really impressive record waves goodbye with the poptastic ‘Dreams’ with its late-night vocal and honking guitar its signs off in style, with a doffed stetson and a cowboy shirt it’s so long from Tommoy and the gang until next time just don’t take another decade unless you fancy doing another Bash & Pop or pretty please Replacements, but this will more than do. Now throw some ribs on that campfire and let’s do this again.

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Author: Dom Daley

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