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Charlie Diamond - New York's Been Good To Me (My Basement Records)

23 November 2023

I’m not sure if the record label name is a knowing reference, but if you connect the dots, real or perceived, between musical tapes being recorded in sixties basements and Charlie Diamond’s sonic style, it isn’t hard to feel the spirit of Bob Dylan wandering through “New York’s Been Good To Me.” There is that same raggle-taggle, troubadour vibe as His Bobness. The same spacious, rhythmic acoustica. The same distant train wail harmonica. And the same sort of earthy narratives running through the song.

It would be unfair, and indeed unwise, to write Charlie Diamond off as a Dylan copyist; after all, it is a style that has been around for at least a century. Mr Zimmerman himself was influenced by 50’s folk revivalists, and was part of the coffee shop roots boom of the ’60s, and artists such as Ryan Adams carried that sound through into more recent years particularly via the songs on his early albums. And it is a style that shows no signs of going away, nor should it. There is something honest and authentic to be found in this format, and all Diamond does is give the style a bit of a personal touch and carry that baton on into a new age and for a new audience.

It’s a fantastic song, one that tributes both an established style and an evocative city. It reminds us that music can come in a straightforward Forman still be just as effective as more ornate and complex sounds. It can still make one hell of an impact if done right. “New York’s Been Good To Me” is the sound of it being done right.