Memphis Loud

Product no.: RUF 1280

17.00 €


Release Date:
May 2020

If you want to travel America, take the Train. As the Grammy-nominated kingpin of American roots, Victor Wainwright’s second release with the crack-squad band he assembled in 2018 is a snapshot of all the nation’s great cities and genres – with a modern twist. And, as the title tells you, Memphis Loud’s rattle-and-shout originals demand to be played at speaker-shaking volume. “Find a moment,” he advises, “to sit back with your favourite headphones or speakers, turn it up, and listen. It’s heavy, and I know you’re gonna love it.”

Stick a pin in the post-millennium US roots scene and you’ll find Wainwright at the heart of the action, breaking the rules. Since pricking up ears with 2005’s Piana’ From Savannah, the Georgia-born keys man has been a vital force in the acclaimed group Southern Hospitality, lost count of his industry awards, and elbowed aside the pop pretenders to scale the dizzy heights of the Billboard Top 10. He’s an ageless, genre-defying presence, busting out of the ‘blues’ bracket with music that can dart between soul, Latin, even psychedelia. As he says: “Everyone’s welcome aboard the train.”

Now, far from running out of steam, Wainwright’s latest vehicle has only stoked his creative fire. In the studio, The Train’s self-titled debut got the nod at the Grammys and was toasted as #3 Blues Album Of ’18 in Classic Rock (“It’s joyous, eyes-wide-open stuff”). On the stage, the exchange of energy is breathtaking. “Our crowd are like locomotive firemen,” says the bandleader, “frantically shovelling coal into the furnace. They fuel us as we pull handles and twist knobs, screech around bends with flying sparks and a wicked whistle. But we’ve arrived right on time with Memphis Loud.”

All aboard. Renowned for twisting roots music into bold new shapes, Wainwright’s sessions at Music+Arts in Memphis – flanked by co-producer Dave Gross and a wishlist of special guests – birthed a modern classic. “I like to produce and write with immense musical curiosity,” he says, “leaving no roots stone unturned, but pushing the artform forward. I want to carry forward the lessons from my grandfather who taught me piano, from countless hours studying US roots, rock ‘n’ roll, blues and honky-tonk, while developing that into something modern, fun, unique, emotional and powerful.”

Opening with a ripple from Wainwright’s fabled fingers, Mississippi grows into an irresistible story-song with push/pull groove. Walk The Walk is a brass-driven pounder whose easy chemistry and vocal ad-libs make it feel like you’re hanging in The Train’s rehearsal space. “Sometimes we had upwards near twelve musicians in the studio,” he recalls, of the revolving studio lineup that included fresh faces and old friends. “We’re a family, with many boxcars to this long train now. Everyone has built up emotional steam in their lives. As conductor, all I have to do is utilise that steam to power the Train forward.”

The title track combines piston-pump rhythms with a cinematic image of a benevolent ghost train offering escape and salvation to all who board it. Disappear is so bruised and yearning, you feel you shouldn’t be listening. The wistful America echoes the state-of-the-nation lyric with an eloquent guitar break. With its New Orleans jazz piano, moody brass lines and spooky echo chamber vocal, Sing conjures a sense of “looming danger”, while celebrating the catharsis of music. “By the song’s end,” explains Wainwright, “the listener has taken a journey and is now engulfed with a hundred singing voices in emotional toil, but relieving that pain.”

Memphis Loud is always beautifully observed. Try Creek Don’t Rise, with its sunkissed guitars, skittering beats and story of a couple reigniting their spark on a road-trip. South End Of A North Bound Mule offers chickenwire riffs and sweetens its hard-luck lyric with humour. My Dog Riley is a love letter to a four-legged companion (“I never ever had a friend so fine,” goes the lyric, even if the mutt is often caught “drinkin’ out of the toilet, pickin’ through the trash”).

Finally, there’s the gorgeous slow-burn Reconcile, its momentum building over eight minutes, taking you on an epic emotional journey – and closing an album that holds whatever you’re searching for within its grooves. “Everyone’s invited and allowed on this train,” says Wainwright. “We’re picking up speed, and with this record, we’ve fully arrived…!”







Walk The Walk




Memphis Loud












Creek Don’t Rise




Golden Rule








South End Of A North Bound Mule









My Dog Riley





Victor Wainwright: vocals, piano, Hammond B3, electric piano

Billy Dean: drums, percussion (1, 6, 7, 9), vocals (1, 9, 11)

Terrence Grayson: bass, vocals (1, 7, 9, 11)

Pat Harrington: guitar, vocals (1, 2, 7, 9, 11)

Mark Earley: baritone sax, tenor sax & clarinet

Doug Woolverton: trumpet & flugelhorn

Dave Gross: guitar (4, 5, 6, 8, 10), vocals (3, 11), percussion (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

featuring special guests:

Greg Gumpel: guitar (5, 9, 12), vocals (9)

Mikey Junior: vocals (1, 4), harmonica (1)

Reba Russell: vocals (1, 9, 11)

Monster Mike Welch: guitar (8, 10)

Nick Black: vocals (6, 8)

Francesca Milazzo: vocals (6, 8)

Chris Stephenson: Hammond B3 (12)

Stephen Dees: vocals (1)

Patricia Ann Dees: vocals (1)

Gracie Curran: vocals (1)

Terrell “Peanut” Reed: vocals (1)