“Tales of Misfortune” – Colby T. Helms (2023) [english]

Now I sound like a broken record and I repeat myself often, but I can’t help but underline it every time.

The Appalachian area between the rivers and green valleys is churning out so many talents for independent music that are almost impossible to count.

Here, add another name to the list: Colby T. Helms, straight from the hills of Southwest Virginia.

An area that, in the past, was full of life and work: textile factories, mines, but now all that wealth has vanished and the people are left with only a difficult land and few opportunities to escape poverty.

Colby is very young and already at 12 years old after the loss of his father to cancer, he had found a refuge in music to vent his sadness and loneliness.

Completely self-taught, he learned to play the guitar, mandolin and even the banjo by watching thousands of videos on YouTube.

The passion for music grew. He also became a record collector by wandering around thrift stores and in the end the decision to start a band was a logical consequence: the Virginia Creepers.

Hundreds of concerts up and down his lands made him mature and made him understand what potential he had in his hands.

I can tell you, without sounding blasphemous, that in his voice and in his stories, which are so true and poignant, there is a lot of what was found in the early days of the great Tyler Childers.

The same poetics, the same incisive and direct voice: after all, the air and water always pass through the “cursed” Appalachia.

This Tales of Misfortune is his debut and, without a shadow of a doubt, these 8 beautiful pieces will put him on the map of artists to know.

The production is entrusted to Billy Hurt who is also the one who plays the violin in a truly incredible way in the songs we will listen to.

He gets off to a great start with First Snow, a fast piece that seems like it came from a concert in an old saloon.

Piano and guitar solo in a honky tonk where we talk about the thoughts that cross Colby‘s mind, while the first snowfall whitens the streets of his town.

Hurt‘s melancholy violin introduces the ballad Dreaming Again, in which Cody‘s voice sounds a lot like Childers‘. Not only the timbre, but the feeling it releases in souls is the same.

The banjo intersecting with the fiddle in Higher Ground transports us into Helms‘ stories in a natural way and the narrative voice is so incisive and sticks to the bones: we want more and this guy won’t be going away from our speakers anytime soon.

Mountain Brandy takes the custom of home-distilling bootleg spirits and uses it to celebrate the lives of its mountain people and the sad loss of their cultural traditions.

The violin is as usual pure magic. A gorgeous piece.

Leanne is a song about an unrequited courtship, one of those stories that we imagine listening to around campfires, perhaps under a sky of stars, while this voice enters our soul, together with the sound of her fantastic band.

The album ends with Daddy’s Pocket Knife, a fast-paced country ballad that has its secret in the sound of the banjo.

The discovery of her father’s small knife is the lock pick that opens up the best memories he has of him.

This boy is a poet, a poet who still lives in the house his father built in the woods, looks after his mother and every day goes hunting and looks for wood for the stove at home.

Tales of Misfortune is a debut that will surely please lovers of true country music purified by the air of the Appalachian Mountains.

An album that brings to our attention a young talent who, self-taught, among the woods of his lands, has the potential to become the next local legend.

A music that oscillates between the sweetness of the waters and the piano and the harshness of the mountains and the violin.

A country watered down by bluegrass and bootleg liquor, which I can’t wait to see when the next album is confirmed.

Happy listening,


Pubblicato da Trex

Sono un blogger e scrittore appassionato di musica indipendente americana. Scrivo gialli polizieschi e ho inventato il personaggio del detective texano Cody Myers.

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