The DAM Combo is a company of three from South Carolina, consisting of Annabelle (vocals, percussion and harmonica) and Matt Ranck (vocals, all kinds of guitars and harmonica) and Don McGraw (bass and keyboards). On their first cd everything is pure Americana. Even though recorded with a minimum of means, this debut is full of very strong roots-songs that cover a lot of ground within the Americana genre. They are influenced by everything between Woody Guthrie and Wanda Jackson: from blues to folk, from pop to rock and back.
For example the opening song 'Forest For The Trees' is good singer-songwriter stuff showing off Annabelle Ranck's vocals. And 'They Closed Down The Mill' is a sublime story song where Matt takes care of the vocals. The theme is the sudden closing of the 100 year old Spartan Industries. Another high point is the love song 'In My Arms', maybe the prettiest song of this cd. Here Matt is the one being very vulnerable. And so it goes back and forth. Now we find Matt behind the mic, then Annabelle. A little like what we've seen from Chris and Carla of the Walkabouts, with whom this group has more similarities. Listen for example to the knife-sharp rocker 'Black Turns To Grey', a number residing in the golden triangle between the late Warren Zevon, the Triffids and the Walkabouts - excellent roots music in other words. And that certainly is true for the song that really closes this album, the jumpy Christmas song 'Cradle & The Star', where the three were helped by Michael Reno Harrell on mandolin.
"Another DAM CD" is the perfect illustration of the saying that less is often more. Strong roots songs such as those by the Rancks don't need much dressing up to be fully convincing. Certainly if the presentation is as driven as this. The music of the DAM Combo deservedly is praised to heaven by respected collegues such as Greg Trooper and David Childers. And now it's your turn...
Benny Metten Ctrl.Alt. Country