Stace England, from Cairo, Illinois
began his career in the '90s in the American Midwest, his first experiences in a country/roots band called House Afire, continuing
in 1995 to a record of inspirational folk with the name Tecumseh. For his solo debut we had to wait for 1999’s
(Peach Blossom Special). In 2005 he releases this interesting, ambitious work entirely dedicated to his city.
Interesting cover notes trace a concise, very intelligent analysis on the reasons Cairo, having remarkable potential and historical
and geographic character, has not succeeded to develop itself and to become a metropolis able to rival in importance with
cities like Portland or Pittsburgh.
Every song narrates a very precise episode in the history
of Cairo, documented with photos in a very beautiful booklet, with an explanation before every song that helps to better comprise
what comes in the lyrics. England gets help with the music from various bands from Illinois like the Woodbox
Gang, the Gutter Swans, The Implications and others to some fixed presences like
guitarist and bassist Jimmy Salatino and drummer Charlie Morrill. All the contributions
are impressive, including special guest Jason Ringenberg and singer Julie Sommer.
The musical direction follows a country-roots progression
in most of the pieces in the Steve Earle tradition, and pulsating bass, electric slide and precise and powerful
drumming on Buy My Votes, a denunciation on the vote fraud in the primary election of 2000, Prosperity
Train, a bitter reflection on the train of the prosperity that won’t stop here any more, Grant Slept
Here, on general Ulysses Grant who during the Civil War stayed in Cairo five months, and the conclusion Can't
We All Get Along, is particularly evocative and impressive with Hammond organ from Matt Workman
and the choruses of Chris McKinley.
The CD begins with the traditional folk song of 1858
Goin' Down To Cairo by the Little Egypt Barbershop Chorus sung a cappella, who hit the nail
on head, Cairo Blues written by Henry Spalding in 1929, acoustic blues with lyrics that reflect the violence
of the period, and the funky Jesse's Comin' To Town, with a horn section that captures to perfection the
context of the piece: Jesse Jackson’s visit to Cairo on June 24, 1969.
This is a confident work from Stace England with significant
cultural value that also walks optimally on its own legs from the musical point of view; in order to appreciate it totally
it is necessary to have a little familiarity with English, in how much the booklet is truly full of interesting information
and anecdotes. (Gabriel Buvoli)
*See the original review in Italian here.