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September 22, 2013 Issue

Originally posted in LONESOME HIGHWAY

Maurice Tani / 77 El Deora
"Blue Line"-
Western Independent


This Californian singer-songwriter is an entertaining and eclectic musician who can slip from honky-tonk to roots noir with ease. HIs band and guest singers are right there with him, well able to assume the position that his mainly original songs require. There are a lot of highlights on offer here from the darker love-lorn despair of the ballad I Think Of You to the bar-room shuffle of When I'm Drinkin' (I Ain't Thinkin') to his late night cover of the Chuck Berry Nadine or his diverting take on the Bacharach/David classic Walk On By.

Tani allows his guests their space here as on New Dress where Pam Brandon takes the lead vocals and shows she has a equally strong vocal presence. As does Jenn Courtney who joins Tani on Three Flights to L.A. The lonely ambience of Red Wine is another slow contemplation of sorrow alleviated through the intake of the aforementioned salve with the presence of saxophone highlighting the early hours bar-stool philosophy.

The title track is a stripped back short story of street people and one Big Jimmy in particular that again emphasises the strength of Tani's noir writing and versatility of the overall direction of the album.

Some have already made comment that this album may be too diverse and that Tani could make a full honky-tonk album that might find favour with one set of listeners but that would only be showing one aspect of his musical talents. 

This twelve track album, well thirteen if you include the bonus take on traditional touchstone Hank Williams' Your Cheatin' Heart, is testament to a talent deserving of wider exposure. Tani is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and graphic designer who knows what he wants. Like many of the writers he admires that have gone before him Tani explores the darker sides of human relationships that are tinged with neon signs and alcohol sodden lies.

-Steve Rapid


Maurice Tani & Mike Anderson
"Two Stroke" -
Western Independent 


During down time with his band Tani and bassist Mike Anderson played a series of gigs as Briggs & Stratton. That directly references the title of this album which is released under their own names. They are joined on several tracks by an additional guest on such diverse instruments as violin, pedal steel and mandolin. The songs are a mix of originals and covers, the best known of which would be Stephen Foster's Hard Times Come Again No More and George Harrison's I Need You.

The album further underlines Tani's talent as a singer and guitarist as well as a writer. The themes are as diverse as on the Blue Line album but there is a greater consistency of arrangement as it is essentially just the two or three players in an immediate and intimate setting. There are songs that stand out immediately like Dancing With Devils and others that take a little longer to infiltrate the consciousness. 

You also get to listen to Tani's skill as a wordsmith which is notable, as is his strength as a singer. I had previously encountered Tani as a member of Calamity & Main whose 2003 album Honky Tonk Heaven was more rooted in that sound. Here Tani has a broader appeal as the sound is more acceptable to those who are less inclined towards the sound of the honky tonks and towards the broader folk/singer-songwriter sound that is presented here.

However between these two releases you can discern that there is something very tangible in the music of Maurice Tani that can only be applauded whether is is two stroke or of a bigger engine capacity. 

-Steve Rapid


Hillbilly Noir. Bashy. Original. Intelligent. California Country. Electric. Honky Tonk. Twangy. Oblique Americana.