Music Notes: The Arlenes all American round trip
PUBLISHED: 09:11 04 September 2012
It is the best part of a decade since The Arlenes headed off to find a new life in America. Leaving the UK with the music of their 2003 album Going to California they embarked on a journey that soon took them from the west coast and on to Tennessee and Nashville.
But having spent a number of years under Nashville’s influence, inspiration and intensity, The Arlenes – husband and wife partnership Steve Pulford and Stephanie Arlene – are back ‘home’ in Norfolk and with a new record due out soon.
To herald its release later this year, The Arlenes have lined up a ‘homecoming gig’ at the Norwich Arts Centre on September 7, where they will showcase new tracks from the album entitled the Berry Hill Sessions reflecting the area of Nashville it was recorded in.
Over the years, on the back of recording success and live shows, The Arlenes have built a wide fan-base with former Old Grey Whistle Test presenter ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris - now Radio 2’s country music presenter - among them.
Initially when they left for California in October 2003, the plan was to be nearer to Stephanie’s family but within a couple of years they were drawn to Tennessee and Nashville where they set up home, raised their two daughters Honey and Violet, now 10 and seven, and absorbed the ambience and influences that surrounded them there.
Surrounded by Americana music – the unique blend of folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and other external influential styles such as bluegrass – their sound and style has evolved to produce some excellent new songs in a style increasingly referred to as alternative country.
The mini album, out soon on Loose Records, was recorded in a studio owned by Buzz Cason, renowned as the man who replaced Buddy Holly in The Crickets and the writer of the classic song Everlasting Love.
Stephanie said: “Ken Coomer produced the record and brought something out of us that was not straight Americana. The album has six songs on it and some of the tracks are very dark; about the recession in America, about struggles and loss but maybe there is also some hope in there as well.”
A couple of the tracks are in response to the death four years ago of Steve’s 40-year-old brother Tim, who lived in Hingham. But Stephanie added: “It was important that we made this record in Nashville before we came back to Norfolk. If we had done it in the UK, it would have been quite different but we gave the musicians carte blanche to bring what they could to the songs and what they have given us from Nashville has been fantastic. But we are very happy to be back in Norfolk.”
Those musicians include Dave Roe, who played bass with Johnny Cash for 12 years and guitarist John Jackson, who played in Bob Dylan’s band for seven years.
The Norwich gig will re-launch a career in the UK on the back of the Berry Hill Sessions CD - a release with some new songs that follows the success of the earlier albums Going to California and Stuck on Love. Supporting will be Hurray for the Riff Raff from Louisiana and Jason McNiff.
■ The Arlenes play Norwich Arts Centre on September 7.
■ Listen to Steve Arlene’s Americana Music Show on the second Sunday of each month, 9-11am, on Future Radio.