I decided to review this album as a challenge for myself, so I’ll preface the following opinions with a disclaimer: I know nothing about Country.
As a snot-nosed punk who grew up when the monstrosity of stitched together cliches that is Country-Pop was at the height of its popularity I assumed the genre wasn’t for me. I now realize I couldn’t have been more wrong. Fast forward to today and I’m ready to trust again. I’m ready to give Country an honest shot.
Enter Duane Mark.
There’s no aggressive twang in the vocals. No tractor imagery, or touting of traditional values. Just talented songwriting and beautiful performances. The lead vocals are full of emotion and imagery, and the band knows how to hang back to let the words take center stage. Mark’s voice has a huge range of emotion. He can cover mysterious, to sorrowful, to a gritty yell in the same song. I loved the ever present string section to fill the space where words aren’t. They do a great job of keeping the listener engaged and guessing where they’ll go next.
The amount of instruments on this album is incredible; there’s strings, horns, organs, and they all fit neatly into their own space. You could listen to each track and pay attention to a different instrument and each time you’d hear something new. The complexity of the mix and the talent of each performer to occupy its own sonic space is masterful.
I would recommend this album to someone looking for a good, accessible look into how good country can actually be.
Listen to this one while drinking whisky and putting Tim McGraw albums into a wood chipper, or while driving on a long dusty road.