Mystery Loves Company; Those Nashville Blues
Singer-songwriter Victor Mecyssne released three fine albums between 1995 and 2000 that I played a lot on the Folk Roots/Folk Branches radio program. I reviewed one of them in Sing Out! magazine and noted his “urbane songs and cool musical approach sure don’t fit the stereotype for someone born, and still living, in Nashville. His singing, guitar playing and arrangements are rooted in places like New York City hipster jazz joints and Mississippi Delta blues road houses and filtered through a songwriting palette that people like Randy Newman and Tom Waits have painted from.”
Victor and his wife left Nashville, immigrated to Canada and moved to Gabriola Island in B.C. in 2007 and now, 15 years after the last Victor Mecyssne album, he’s re-emerged as Victor Anthony and two excellent new CDs.
Mystery Loves Company is a fine set of mostly original songs that will surely please those who remember the Victor Mecyssne albums. Victor sings and plays guitar throughout and is joined by one or two other musicians or harmony singers on some of the songs.
Among my favorite tracks are “Boots On,” a hip cowboy song, “True Blue Baby,” a jazzy tune featuring some really nice clarinet playing by Lloyd Arntzen, and “He Walks Alone,” a portrait of a determined loner co-written by my old friend Tom Mitchell (another great singer-songwriter who hasn’t released new material in far too long).
There are also really fine versions of “Thunder Rollin ‘cross Arkansas” and “Summer Way Down South,” two vivid portraits of the South that he first recorded on Victor Mecyssne albums.
Victor became a Canadian citizen in 2014 and says the citizenship judge told the new Canadians he was swearing in that one of their responsibilities was to share their native culture with their new neighbors. That led Victor to record Those Nashville Blues, a terrific set of traditional blues and old-time country songs originating in Tennessee that now make a nice contribution to Canadian multiculturalism.
Using pretty much the same recording approach as Mystery Loves Company that features Victor solo on some tracks and with one or two other players or singers on others, he breathes new life into such venerable old songs and tunes as “Chitlin’ Cookin’ Time in Cheatham County,” “Victory Rag,” “Dry Land Blues” and “Little Willie Green from New Orleans.”