Black, Lou - City Of No Winters

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Factor 21 Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:44:00

There is a city on the south eastern coast of Africa called Durban. It used to have the most vibrant nature, a thriving economy and a burgeoning tourist industry. Rickshas took tourists for rides along the oceanfront under the benevolent gaze of elegant hotels and holiday apartments, while surfers rode some of the best waves in the world to impress the bevy of bikinis on the perfect golden beaches. Take a trip just a few miles inland and you were among the lush hills with huge trees shading some of the wealthiest suburbs in the southern hemisphere. The winding roads would lose you among the quiet, old money neighborhoods where the culture is so decidedly British that the area has long been known as "the last colonial outpost". The sun always shines in Durban - it is a City Of No Winters

Lou Black, with German heritage, was born in Peru and now lives in Washington, DC. But getting here was a long trip: As a youngster Black traveled the world, moving through much of South America, Western and Eastern Europe, and parts of Asia. His debut album reflects the experiences and impressions gained on those travels.

The sound is song-oriented folk rock. There are ballads, light rockers and subtly jazzy segments. There is little that is 'progressive' about this music, and the rhythm section introduces a pop flavor to many tracks, but it is the vocals that will grab your attention. Black's delivery is in a strong mid-range with rich timbre, and the intelligent lyrics lend their own rhythm to each track. The nature of each story and the subtleties of each country's local music guides subtle changes to the musical style in each song. There are Spanish lyrics in one song, deep male backing vocals in another, and traditionally influenced percussion and rich female backing in others.

Black has surrounded himself with a capable group of musicians and lyricists and the resulting tone, the international flavor, the lyrics and the vocal quality will variously recall such luminaries as Peter Sarstedt, Aaron English, Chris Rhea, Peter Gabriel, Chris De Burgh, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, and Rodriguez. (Anyone remember Rodriguez?) These are all singer songwriters with an artistic vision that extends beyond the limits of their own shores, and whose music and poetry successfully narrate their rich experiences with the triumphs and the hardships of the world's people.

Which brings us back to Africa. If you were to take a trip a few miles further inland from Durban you would experience an uncanny dichotomy - there is squalor and poverty and disease here. Were these people the victims of apartheid, or were they the poor that tragically but inevitably inhabit every developing country? Open question. Durbanite Enid Holden collaborated with Black in the development of the title track, and she laments both the apartheid era and her home town's recent fall from grace with poignant verse that recalls the good times and hints at the bad:

In the city that has no winters?
I left my heart, I'll tell you why?
I still hear the gentle weeping and quiet screams

Durban is still there, though it is no longer regarded as a colonial outpost. The rickshas are all but gone, the houses are guarded by security patrols and electric fences and the beaches are ruined, and the Enid Holdens of the world have had to leave. Reading Enid's prose and hearing Lou's ballad about Durban had a profound effect on me. You see ? time for truth in advertising ? I was born there.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going for a long walk to get some fresh American air, and to try to clear a lump from my throat.

Searching For A Land Of Love / Dave Says / Oh Amor / Patience Of Saints / Helping Hand / The City Of No Winters / Do You Ever Think About Me? / Ode To Backbay / I Go Insane / Whipper Snapper / The Doctor Won't Help Me / Every Night / Dave Says (Unplugged)

Lou Black - lead and backing vocals
Bill Bailey - drums and percussion
John 'JR' Hartley - guitar and bass
Patrick John 'PJ' Tracey - keyboards (1, 2, 4 , 7, 8, 10, 11, 12)
Dana Bailey - keyboards (3, 5, 6, 9, 13)
Katy Thomasberg - vocals (2,11)

City Of No Winters (2004)

Genre: Rock

Origin VA

Added: October 18th 2004
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website:
Hits: 1096
Language: english


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