3. Star Crossed Lovers
4.Loved By Trouble (Featuring Edwina Hayes)
5. Where Good Things Go To Die
6. Lonesome Crow
7. Better Ways To Get Free
8. Bright Young Star
9. Lady Macbeth
10. Smoking In My Backyard
11. Good Until It's Gone
Where Do I Start With Boss Caine? Let's Start At The Beginning Shall We?
A few years ago I was looking for some Americana style music to listen to and a few friends recommended this guy from York who had a couple of albums out. Money was swapped, albums were sent and a love affair began.
Since then I've become friends with Daniel Lucas, the creative nucleus of Boss Caine. I think he's one of the UK's finest songwriters, taking the emotion that most musicians would give their right arm for and distilling them to a prefect essence for a song.
It's been six years since his last album, the sublime "The Rhythm And The Rhyme" (before that was 2010's "The Ship That Sailed"). There were demos and live mini albums, hints and teases. Dan said he was working on material, lovingly taking his time, working at his craft meticulously in a studio and we, his audience, collectively held our breath......
Finally, we can all exhale. And it's not just with relief, it's with excitement and anticipation. With the release of "Loved By Trouble, Troubled By Love" Boss Caine have legitimately cemented a claim for THE album of 2018.
The album opens with the rowdy 'Champagne' and you have to check you're listening to the right band. Dan has embellished the sound of the song with a soulful horn section, making the song feel more like Springsteen or Van Morrison in his prime. It's validation that Dan was right in taking his time recording this, everything needed to be just right. And it so is.
'Evidence' makes it's way up next, a lot more delicate than what came before it, starting sparse before allowing the rest of the band to join him. When he mentioned that a full band would be joining him I was a little worried as part of the beauty of Boss Caine was the space in his music. Normally adding a full band can add some clutter but here everyone works so well allowing all the instruments to work and play off each other perfectly.
'Star Crossed Lovers' sneaks it's way into your heart. Before too long your surrendering yourself to it's tale of loneliness and longing. "Run with me now and I swear I'll set your heart free" he sings over soft female backing vocals , both voices intertwining with each other in such a way that I swear I can hear my heart breaking every time I listen to it.
It would just be cruel for Dan to continue breaking your heart so the gears get switched up as the band launch into the album's title track, featuring a duet between Dan and Edwina Hayes, their voices perfectly complementing each other. The electric guitars push the song forward sounding like Tom Petty's Heartbreakers free falling their way through a roundhouse dive bar, once again showing Boss Caine to be the vital part of a Route 66 roadtrip.
Speaking of vital ingredients 'Where Good Things Go To Die' showcases the band's secret weapon: Dan's voice. Listening to it and you can hear the tone and timbre of a barfly Tom Waits fused with the storytelling power of Springsteen. There's such a sense of heartbreak and remorse in his singing that I think Dan has sold his soul for at some midnight crossroads. Gentle mariachi horns guide the song around the empty graveyard of a town it dwells in.
'Lonesome Crow' is quite possibly the album's centrepiece and is quite simply breathtaking. It's a widescreen epic tale of Rock 'n' Roll soundtracked by Nick Cave and Ennio Morricone. It's empty desert spaces and gaping chasms of loneliness and part of you believes Dan loves it there. "For it's taken my soul but forsaken the rest of me" he sings over the sound of ringing tom-toms and ringing reverbed guitars. Every time I hear it I become lost in it, often skipping back to listen to it again.
'Better Ways To Get Free' sounds a lot more simpler in it's arrangement which sits perfectly after the epicness of the previous song. It sounds like it could have waltzed off a Steve Earle album, all acoustic guitars, brushed drums and strings backing Dan's rasp. It's swiftly followed by 'Bright Young Star' written especially for Dan by Phil Campbell of rising British Rock band The Temperance Movement. It dances along quite lightly compared to the other songs on the album, which isn't a complaint, adding just the right amount of light to balance the album out.
'Lady Macbeth' comes along like Townes Van Zandt's bastard love child. It's slow and mournful, a mournful torch song of picked guitar, vibrating double bass and a skeletal cello arrangement. The song has been around as a demo for a while now and this version captures the feeling needed perfectly from the performance.
The official album closer, 'Smoking In My Backyard' leaves us gazing at a star filled sky with Boss Caine offering us a little bit of hope as they pass a drink around us all. It's the right song to finish on, it's almost anthemic. I can already hear people singing along to it live, going on and on until the faint wash of dawn's light comes through to remind us there's another day ahead of us.
Bonus track 'Good Until It's Gone' is a bare bones demo, just Dan, his acoustic guitar and his voice. It proves that he doesn't need studio trickery to sound good, he just is. It's like you've suddenly discovered an outtake from Springsteen's "Nebraska" album. Dan could release an entire album like this and it would still shine brighter than most artist's greatest hits.
It's taken a good while for the album to come to light, but it has been so worth the wait. Boss Caine have slaved away to make sure this album is perfect in every way. It's not overproduced, there's space in the album's mix that allows the songs to breathe and live, growing with every listen until you find that you need these songs in your life every day. This album deserves to be held in the highest regard, sitting well beside classics that should overshadow it. "Loved By Trouble, Troubled By Love" is your new favourite album that you've never heard. Yet. Do yourself a favour, head over to the Boss Caine Bandcamp page and order yourself the album. Get yourself a drink and turn those lights down low. Boss Caine are about to break your heart then kiss it better.
It might only be March but this has set the bar so incredibly high for other releases for the next few months. Dan Lucas and Boss Caine may have just released the album of the year already.
Bandcamp - https://bosscainemusic.bandcamp.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/bosscaine/
Review - Scott Hamilton
Photo - Neil Vary Gig Photography