Dean Wareham & Cheval Sombre - Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Dean Wareham & Cheval Sombre - Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre

by Jeff Penczak Rating:7 Release Date:2018-10-26
Dean Wareham & Cheval Sombre - Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre
Dean Wareham & Cheval Sombre - Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre

Wareham you probably know from snore-core legends Galaxie 500 and his more successful pop extension, Luna. Porpora, well, not so much. Apparently, he records as Cheval Sombre, hence the album title, which reflects the duo’s alternating selections of the ten western tunes that comprise the album. Odd choice for a concept album, to be sure, but Wareham’s categorization as “Western-Dreampop” suits its melancholic, prairie/stoner vibe.

At first blush, the album feels like a three-fingered contractual obligation castoff (nobody makes covers albums with ancient Western film theme songs), but Wareham insists it’s neither country nor alt-country. However, tackling Michael Holland of North Carolina alt-country heroes Jennyanykind’s  ‘Mountains of The Moon’ makes one wonder if that’s just PR bluff. Wareham’s sauntering salute to Marty Robbins’ ‘The Bend In The River’ is straight out of the Twin Peaks Roadhouse saloon and would have been a Bang Bang Bar favourite, but Porpora’s hesitant struggle with the old Dylan chestnut ‘Tomorrow Is A Long Time’ doesn’t bode well. Unfortunately, trying to bury his mumbled vocals under a cooing chorale doesn’t help.

And it doesn’t get much more “Americana” than Blaze Foley (aka Deputy Dawg), and Porpora redeems himself with a riveting performance of Foley’s classic ‘If I Could Only Fly’ that unveils the song’s sorrow and heartbreak that even its most famous interpreters, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson couldn’t coax out of it. The barrelhouse bravura of the traditional saloon tune ‘Alberta’ reveals a backing band (including Wareham’s wife and collaborator Britta Phillips) in full throttle/bottle, but Wareham’s attempt to breathe life into Lee Marvin’s shocking Number One hit ‘Wand’rin’ Star’ (from the jawdroppingly ridiculous Western musical Paint Your Wagon) needs a few more shots of whiskey to retain its satirical sleepy-eyed innocence.

Porpora hits just the right stride for the anthemic buildup accorded Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Greensboro Woman’, but I’m not sure Wareham was firing on all cylinders when he decided to redo Dean Martin’s ‘My Rifle, My Pony, and Me’ (from Rio Bravo), and the silly howling and whippoorwillin’ backing is a complete puzzle, as in “what were they thinking?”

Whether the world is ready for an album of loopy, meandering cowpoke cover tunes remains to be seen, but Wareham and Porpora are poised to usher in this new subgenre, and if “Western Dreampop” becomes the next thing, you can tell everyone you heard it here first.

Overall Rating (0)

0 out of 5 stars
  • No comments found
Related Articles
Dean Wareham & Cheval Sombre - Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Carlos Hernandez - On Folly
  • 07/15/2018
  • By Mark Moody
Dean Wareham & Cheval Sombre - Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Nadine - oh my
  • 01/20/2018
  • By Steve Ricciutti
Dean Wareham & Cheval Sombre - Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Stutter Steps - Floored
  • 06/07/2017
  • By Steve Ricciutti
Dean Wareham & Cheval Sombre - Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Cheval Sombre - Mad Love
  • 11/01/2012
  • By Daryl Worthington
Dean Wareham & Cheval Sombre - Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Luna - Bonnie & Clyde
  • 11/25/2011
  • By Bob Coyne