Rumors of the Great White Skunk, the third album from Oklahoma based duo Cliff and Jeana Downing, builds on the success of Captain Ledge Band’s first two albums with a collection that shows their exponential growth as songwriters since the band first formed. The duo’s journey to a third album has been well chronicled and you hear a lot of the gratitude they share for making music together coming through, in its own way, on each of the album’s ten tracks. Their Southwestern based touring schedule, active by any measure of the word, looks to expand with the release of this album.
“I Wish” begins the release with a plaintive statement that virtually anyone hearing it will agree with. It’s a rare, especially for this album, foray into social commentary for Captain Ledge Band and they pull it off without hesitation or stumble. “Bucket Mouth” is one of the album’s best songs for a variety of reasons, but paramount is the particularly striking vocal courtesy of Jeana Downing. Her husband Cliff adds much in that department and elsewhere throughout the performance. It shows, as well, how the band can take common conversations and make them into performed poetry with a minimal amount of effort.
“Skeleton Key” and “No Need to Cry” bring out the band’s storytelling efforts in a way that few other songs do on Rumors of the Great White Skunk. The first of those two tracks, in particular, benefits from a lyric that evolves a lot thanks to Jeana Downing’s vocal while the second track mixes the arrangement up a little to give the song a distinctly signature flair. Song after song on this album shows off the astute production applied to this material and this two-some of cuts is some of the best work you’ll hear on this album.
“In the Middle” is another winner thanks to the unvarnished way it communicates its emotional and narrative message with a minimum of dross. The Captain Ledge Band resolutely avoids any hint of self indulgence on this album and songs like “In the Middle” show off that discipline stronger than most. Jeana Downing really hits the heartfelt mark with the track “I Remember” and the lyric mixes straight forward communication with poetic flourishes we don’t always hear from earlier and later cuts. The album’s final curtain comes with the song “Mimosa Tree” and its wealth of imagery is well handled by another Jeana Downing vocal.
The personal struggles that Cliff and Jeana Downing have endured to bring this music to life stands out, but it wouldn’t matter much, in the end, if they weren’t so extraordinarily talented. This ten song collection makes their contributions to Americana music even more indelible than ever before and the elegance they pull it off with is full of the same emotional driven beauty we’ve come to expect from the Captain Ledge Band,