Chance Meyer and the Bloody 98s “Ashdown” (Independent, 2019)

Coming from a classic Americana standpoint the Bloody 98s’ album ‘Ashdown’ is a thing of beauty. This is hewn from the same tree as The Rustlanders, Whiskeytown and Bruntnell circa ‘Shot from a Spring’ or ‘Here Comes the Swells’. Big, wide-open sounds, full band and fuller harmonies on the choruses, bruisy guitars, pedal steel and lyrics drenched in the blue-collar experience.

The opener ‘One for the Road’ sets the scene perfectly – setting both the pace and the tone with its story of shut bars and lost highways. Title track ‘Ashdown’ has a stately grace and pace and ‘Country Stars’ builds on this vibe and adds sharp anti- Nashville lyrics to the pot. The pace rarely lifts above the pedestrian but this is an observation rather than a criticism as each song is sufficiently well drawn to avoid a sense of ennui. ‘Evangelina’ is a love song shot through with country melancholy. Album highlight for this reviewer is ‘If I Leave Tonight’ with its exquisite production and beautiful close-quarter harmonies – all world-weariness and regret – beautiful.

This band are currently unsigned but they have created a classic of the genre. Buy without fear. Let’s hope they cross the water!

Sublime debut from North Florida band with some Ozark thrown in!

Author: Keith Hargreaves

Riding the one eyed horse into dead town the scales fell from his eyes. Music was the only true god at once profane and divine The dust blew through his mind as he considered the offering... And then he scored it out of ten and waited for the world to wake up

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