Small Town Hymns
added: 4 Apr 2011
// release date: 4 Apr 2011 // label: Freeworld
reviewer: Andy Snipper
I am almost embarrassed by how much enjoyment thjs album has given me over the last couple of weeks.
It is a brilliant example of hard country with no concessions to the musical movements of the last twenty or so years and the songs (hymns) celebrate their origins with no shame.
Just take a look at their current gig list to see what they are about: Greensboro North Carolina followed by Raleigh North Carolina, Charlotte NC, Beaufort NC, Winston-Salem NC, Myrtle Beach South Carolina – heartland Americana with all the pride that accrues.
The songs are peppered with talk of ‘Big Block Fords’, Plymouths and ‘My Dad’s Cadillac’, women are either ‘Darlin’ or rattlesnakes and they encapsulate the emotions and desperation of small-town Southern American life perfectly. The album’s closer ‘Hard To Quit’ has the singer pleading with his woman not to walk away and “listening to old voicemails just to hear the way you said goodbye” – he even sings about “This shirts still smells like you. I haven’t washed these clothes in weeks” – songs about real emotions and things we can take to our hearts.
When the music is upbeat as in the wonderful ‘Rattlesnake’ he sneers out the line “Oh Lord, she’s a Mississippi Queen” as though she could only get better from there.
‘Brother Oh Brother’ is my favourite track on the album with its echoes of ‘Copperhead Road’ and singing to the dichotomy of loving your people but hating your government.
The playing is excellent with Whit Wright’s Pedal Steel a joy and Zack Brown’s Piano and Wurlitzer really cooking along but it really is all about the lyrics and the songs here.
BJ Barnham is the songwriter and I believe that he put all the songs together in a month – it certainly sounds like it as the immediacy and the feel in all the songs suggests that it came in a burst from his heart.
Albums like this are really either joy to the heart or sound to you like a buzzsaw on a chalkboard – to me this is classic country with some of the best playing I could wish for.‘Like’ our facebook page and be entered into a draw to win 1000 CDs including rare, signed and promotional copies here!
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