So, you think you know Boss Caine – the man otherwise known as G.T. Turbo, or Daniel Lucas if you’re feeling formal. He’s York’s loveable bearded drunken troubadour, singing songs about whisky, wine and lost love in any bar, pub or music venue you care to think of – pass him down another bottle of
wine cider and he’ll give you a tune. Oh yes, you think you know Boss Caine… but if you haven’t listened to The Rhythm And The Rhyme, then perhaps you should think again. Oh sure, the record starts out in familiar territory, surrounded by ‘Ghosts And Drunks’ and sipping coffee served by a winsome girl with big blue eyes, as Vin North’s harmonica wails into the lonely night. But as the album grows on, we learn much more about our narrator’s character.
He’s a man with heroes. Some of those heroes are talented artists from years past who died before their time – he makes no bones about his love for The Clash’s Joe Strummer, but it’s Gram Parsons who gets immortalised in song here on ‘Truckstop Jukebox’. “You could be my Grevious Angel once again,” sings Lucas, simultaneous recalling the feeling of falling in love with a record at first listen and expressing his desire to meet the man once he departs from this world.
But many of his heroes are simply people like him, local musicians who are in this so-called business for the love of music. Mark Wynn is very much a kindred spirit to Mr. Lucas, and ‘Slave To The Song’ is a fitting tribute to the tireless work and good advice of a man who is simply compelled to make music – “he might be a master of his craft, but he’s still a slave to the song.” Many more of his local heroes have contributed to this record directly, including Sam Forrest (Nine Black Alps/The Sorry Kisses), Tom Hiskey (Towns And Houses), Vin North, (Fox North Coalition), Martyn Fillingham (…And The Hangnails), as well as Boss Caine stalwarts Paddy Berry, Sarah Horn and Dave Keegan.
He’s a man who’s had his heart broken – a staple theme of Boss Caine songs, but delivered with beautiful fragility on ‘A Box To Put Me In’. He’s a man who makes mistakes and isn’t afraid to admit it – ‘Me And Lionel Richie’ sees him stumbling over his love for a woman, getting caught up in the moment and spilling out his feelings before immediately regretting it. And he’s a man who doubts himself, like any other human being – “maybe I’m better off stoned and on my own,” he sings mournfully on ‘Daisy Chains’ after drinking both his lover and himself under the table yet again.
He’s also a man in love. In love with a woman who means the world to him despite the fact she steals all his whisky and cigarettes (‘Kind Of Loving’), but also a man in love with the world, despite its hardships. That might be an odd thing to take away from the album’s final track ‘Not Enough To Try’, which juxtaposes a soothing, finger-picked riff with the album’s most stark, bleakly honest lyricism. But it’s the final line that’s telling – “so help a brother, help a sister out” – a simple acknowledgement that we can make the world a better place simply by giving a damn about each other in our times of need.
Ultimately, he’s a man for whom music is his first love. When bargaining with his lady on the album’s title track, he’s willing to make any other sacrifice except his songs – “I’d give it up, give it all up for you/all but the rhythm and the rhyme.” And you can tell he means it – The Rhythm And The Rhyme is clearly the work of a man who cares deeply about making music. It’s in the sounds of his bluesy americana, which Lucas and his supporting cast deliver in a way that’s dripping with authenticity, and it’s in the words that he sings in that gravelly, arresting tone of his – the record is awash with a kind of dedication that you simply can’t fake.
The Rhythm And The Rhyme is available now via Bandcamp.