A love letter to the music of the 90s that stands with the best of the decade.
Young’s website tells us that he “writes and performs indie rock with a touch of twang, sounding like a cross between vintage Wilco, Old 97s & R.E.M.” Opening song ‘Staggering’ certainly has more than a touch of R.E.M, if Mike Campbell was on lead guitar. That influence continues into ‘TV Screen’ which could easily be a lost song from ‘Out of Time’.
By the time we are up to third song ‘Can’t Make Me Go Back’ the alt-country influence is making itself felt, although it’s more the poppier end The Jayhawks that are more prominent – he says that alt-country “informed most of my early attempts at songwriting but the catchy melodies and power pop guitars of my teenage years always seemed to permeate through my roots rock inclinations”. He blends the two best on the ballad ‘First Things First’, where Banjo and Pedal Steel blend with a Bruce Hornsby piano line.
After a couple of quieter numbers the guitars kick back in with ‘Grown Ups’. This is the music that Young does best, and his love for all sorts of music from the 90s shines through this catchy tune.
‘Simple See You Later’ takes us back to an earlier country music place with chugging guitar and drums and pedal steel that remind us of Western TV soundtracks. Backwards features Rhett Miller of Old 97s on harmonies and has a feel of his band to it. After a final blast of the big guitars and organ with ‘I’m Winning’ that takes us neatly back to R.E.M land he closes with the full on country ballad ‘Florence Virginia’ where Aaron Till’s Fiddle shines over Young’s fine singing.
Young calls this album “a love letter to 90’s alternative rock/alternative country and a tribute to my maternal grandfather George Taylor, the best storyteller I’ve ever known. The title is a reference to a story he used to tell my siblings and I as children”. The fact that this is all about his favourite bands from his early years makes apologising for comparing himself to REM, Jayhawks and Lemonheads unnecessary. ‘Crow Got Drunk’ is a worthy successor to the classic albums of that decade.