Brilliant female vocal brings life to brutally honest and heartfelt country.
‘Daughter of Country’ is, by the admission of husband-and-wife duo Shane and Megan Baskerville, a sad album. There is no attempt here to disguise the personal nature of these songs. Everyone one is a scar picked at or opened up, a cathartic reveal to the world through that age-old proven medium of country music.
The duo run a School of Rock franchise but, for this their debut album, they determined to bring in outside help to bring a wider perspective to their music. To this end, having sold their home to finance the album, they recruited producer Bob Hoag to the project and the hands that weaved their magic with, amongst others, Courtney Marie Andrews, has proved highly effective again here.
Shane himself is on record in declaring Megan as the stronger singer and from the very first line of opening track ‘Alone’, a big bold bouncy track with a distinct country twang, it is clear we are in the presence of a wonderful voice. Title track ‘Daughter of Country’ pays reference to Loretta and Patsy as a way of getting through early struggles, getting lost in those country songs as a way of escape from the harsher realities of her life. If those singers were solace to a younger Megan then they clearly also influenced her singing style. This is not a manufactured country voice churned out of a Nashville production line. This is country as it was intended, with an edge, raw in emotion and feeling with Megan’s vocals leaving the listener hanging on every word.
And this duo meant what they said about the underlying sadness of the album. ‘Scars’ demonstrates all the album is about revealing that it is the internal scars, hidden from view, that are often the ones that hurt the most and never heal. In this case it is a personal tragedy that forms the basis of the song but in ‘Taken This Long’ Shane uses what was initially a fatal diagnosis and his survival of that diagnosis to write of the transformative effect this kind of diagnosis can have on the mind.
Isn’t it one of life’s great ironies that songs of infinite desolation can be put into song and delivered in such a way that they can still lift the spirits, if not through the lyrics then with the sheer power of a voice and the brilliant musicianship with which it is accompanied? ‘Oh Lord’ has Megan belting out ‘Oh Lord take my hand, this is all I can stand, I can’t bear this burden anymore. Oh Lord set me free, is this all you’ve got for me? If it is then show me the door.”
With apologies to Shane who takes the lead on some songs here but this album deserves to be heard for the aching honesty of its artists but, above all, for the voice that is Megan Baskerville. The PR describes the voice as a “force of nature”. It is hard to disagree.