Broken Radio “Dirty Country”

Hausmusic/clickity-clack, 2023

An excellent album of gothic country haunted by some ghostly heroes from the past.

It’s a little-known fact that Johnny Cash bought his first guitar in Landsburg, a small town in southern Bavaria whilst he was in the US Air Force.  It’s possible that Klaus Patzak, the man behind Broken Radio has been infused by the man in black’s essence as Cash’s influence along with that of Duane Eddy’s, is all over Broken Radio’s sixth full-length album, the aptly named ‘Dirty Country’.

The album opens with a twangy guitar a la Eddy and Paztak’s Cash-infused, heavily reverbed vocals on ‘Tomorrow’s Gone’ with background vocals from Teodora Gosheva. This is followed by a duet, on the loping ‘Let Me Go’ which opens with vocals from the classic country-sounding, Lois Walsh. The third track is ‘Going South’ which like the preceding track features some superb fiddle playing. Next comes ‘Sonic Love Letter’ with some more twangy guitar mixed with what sounds like a Hammond organ and some more heavy reverb on Patzak’s plaintive vocals. Track five is another duet with Walsh, the very Cash-sounding ‘Sweetheart Honey Babe’ which could easily be a long-lost track from Cash and June Carter. This is followed by ‘Solitary Morning’ a melancholy ballad suffused with some wistful guitars. Track seven is ‘Tow Truck Driving Lady’ another loping melody with some excellent pedal steel and female background vocals (Walsh?) and has the feel of a Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra duet. Next comes ‘Big Old Small World’ which features more organ along with guitar and piano. Track nine is ‘Smoke Signals’ a jaunty guitar-led song that once again has the feel of Johnny Cash all over it. This is followed by ‘A Man Of Contradictions’ which is heavily layered with guitars, pedal steel, dobro, harmonica and violin which gives the song a wistful quality. The penultimate song is ‘Walking On Cobblestones’ another song with a loping tempo that melds into Tex-Mex with some Mariachi trumpet sounds. The album concludes with the title song ‘Dirty Country’ a slow, big-sounding, soulful ballad featuring some more excellent Hammond organ as it builds to a big finish.

Although based in Germany, Patzak who has written all the songs lived for some time in Austin TX and has used his impressions of that state and the surrounding area to infuse his songs with the authentic tropes of the area’s musical traditions. Within the twelve tracks he sings of hound dogs, guns, county lines, automobiles, trains and walking the line amongst other americana subjects.

Apart from Patzak’s interesting whiskey-soaked voice which has echoes of Cash and Hazelwood running through it, what gives the album another dimension is that Patzak plays all the instruments himself including drums, bass, various guitars, keyboards and other assorted instruments as well as producing the album in his home studio – not in Texas but in Bavaria! However as talented as Patzak is, even he didn’t attempt the female vocals needed and amazingly found Walsh and Gosheva on They then recorded their vocals in their own studios and sent the tracks to Patzak who mixed them into the album – the wonders of modern technology!

‘Dirty Country’ has a cinematic quality to it that makes it sound timeless and retro at the same time – a difficult feat to pull off but Patzak in the guise of Broken Radio does it superbly.

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