Little Diamonds – New Orleans Bound
Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. Little Diamonds has a passion for self-expression that emerges through music and he has immersed himself in the creative life. His second album New Orleans Bound is a rich and varied collection of traditional American music with a high degree of lyrical invention and a number of surprising musical turns taken along the way. Some of these songs aren’t for the faint of heart. Little Diamonds tangles with some weighty themes and concerns alongside other songs about love’s disappointments and similar standard fare. He brings audible commitment to this collection – there’s no question, when listening to it, that Diamonds is engaged throughout and with the listener in full on every note and word. It makes for a great experience – those who hear this music with favor will be drawn into its world for the duration of the album and find themselves wanting more.
“I Don’t Know About You” opens the album on a subdued note. The acoustic guitar is augmented with occasional fills from other instruments like fiddle, but the dominant musical force in this composition is Little Diamonds’ voice. He sings with a straight forward approach, never indulging in unnecessary or overly dramatic phrasing, and this clean take on the lyrical content gives the song unique power. “12-12-12” takes a decidedly different spin and features a full band arrangement. The drumming sets an assertive tone from the outset without ever pushing the tempo too hard and the interplay between instruments achieves its desired effects without ever overstating its presence. “Too Early Gone” is a deeply affecting song about personal loss that doesn’t rely on big statements to convey its emotional impact. The song’s effects, instead, are incremental and achieved by the memorable union of instruments and vocals fueling the cut’s musicality.
“Lord, Come Down” doesn’t outright delve into the blues and spirituality, but there’s definitely a much strong melancholy vibe coming from this track than the earlier numbers and Little Diamonds turns in a particularly serious, head downturned, vocal. He excels at a bit of storytelling in song with the track “Duluth Grandma” – the musical arrangement here is serviceable and rather elementary so it gives Little Diamonds ample opportunity to weave a spell via the power of his voice and words. He does a great job of that lyrically by bringing together specific and general details in such a way that it outlines a story and character, but yet lets listeners interact imaginatively with the song. “Mortified” has a carefully controlled approach that dramatizes the song’s mood with unexpected creativity. This is all the more impressive considering this is a solo performance with just Diamonds and his guitar.
The fiddle plays a more important role than usual in the song “I Go Walking”. The deliberate pace set by the acoustic guitar and Little Diamonds’ straight forward phrasing serve the song well. New Orleans Bound closes with its title song, another highly imaginative writing job that brings together his songwriting gifts with a backing track paying homage to both New Orleans jazz and the classic country sounds defining some of the earlier tracks. Little Diamonds’ second album shows a lot of strides made since his first release, 2010’s 1st Rail, and sets him up quite nicely going forward from here.
9 out of 10 stars