Album review: Great Big Fire-Show
Critter Fuqua (Old Crow Medicine Show)
Walt Whitman wrote in his poem “Song of Myself”, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” This certainly holds true with Megan Huddleston, aka the Huddlenecker, aka Molly Smokie, aka Little Roja, and her band, Mister Baby. On her latest, “Great Big Fire-Show,” Huddleston weaves her peculiar brand of machinations with tight punctuation from her band. Her subject matter ranges from revenge fantasy to escapist existential journeys through Blue Ridge tunnels, while all the while exploring a multitude of wild life analogies which explain to the listener through parable the hang ups, pains and joys of love, living, and the darker side of human emotion.
The opening track “Rabbit” is a macabre and delightful little romp through the twisted scenario of what it might feel like for the hunted to become the hunter. The band is tight and punchy, little blue notes and riffs falling on a rhythm like a hare through the woods.
Another song that stands out is “Buffalo”. A reversal of roles in a relationship comes to us in a daydream where the jilted woman is the trans-continental rail road and her lover is the buffalo. Is it a wish to ruin the life of the man who invaded her existence and destroyed her only source of food, leaving her heart to scrape by on the institutionalized reservation of a love gone sour? Mayhap that is looking to deep into it, but the song is haunting.
“Bees!!” Love the title, love the song. Does god love me? Why did he give the bee wings to fly away and not me? These are the questions that taunt humanity, and, it seems, Megan, in this (pun intended) buzzing little number. This song also shows off Megan’s ability to, like the great bluesmen of yore, echo the guitar riff with her lyrics, giving this, and other, songs a yearning quality that showcases her talent yet is unaffected.
My favorite song on the album, and yes, I am biased, is “Waynesboro”. I love it not just because I am a Virginian, and a Valley Boy, but this song speaks to that Shangri-La sort of place we all need in our lives where we are at once anonymous and a star. Don’t you hate when people always ask you where you’ve been, but with that tone like “are you doing alright? are you doing well, mentally?” Waynesboro, the town and the song, are unassuming, un-judgmental, and simple, fulfilling that night-flight feeling of fantasy and freedom up over the Blue Ridge.
“Have you planned how to make a fall while making a stand?” Seems this would have been a good question to ask William Berret Travis in 1836 before the Mexicans shot him through the head on the north wall of the Alamo. The last song on the album, “Little Lost Alamos”, is up there with “Waynesboro” on my favorites list, me also being a Texan, I have dual citizenship, but this song is tragic, and deeply moving. Comparing love to the Alamo is an apt analogy, and Megan does this quite beautifully. Making a stand in the face of overwhelming emotional odds is certainly brave, but like the actual battle of the Alamo, as time passes, it turns from a tragic defeat into a victory, moving the combatants on the battleground of love into the realm of myth.
Megan is a unique voice. Her writing is like no other with its dark, dark humor, wonderful analogies and an ability to convey universal themes with the specifics of place and incident. Get to know Megan Huddleston and Mister Baby by listening to “Great Big Fire-Show” while you drive over those proverbial Blue Ridge mountains to your own Waynesboro of the soul.