Cosmic country and vintage West Coast influences are all over this sturdy, Margo Price-produced debut.
Teddy and the Rough Riders are one of Margo Price’s favourite Nashville bands. In fact, she likes them so much that she decided to produce their self-titled debut album – when she was seven months pregnant with her daughter. Price also provides backing vocals on the record, and she’s roped in her husband and fellow recording artist, Jeremy Ivey, to lend a hand too.
Trad country rock, cosmic americana and classic West Coast sounds are the order of the day – think Gram Parsons, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Commander Cody, The Grateful Dead and The Band. Hold on to your cowboy hats, you’re in for one hell of a ride, or should that be trip?
First song, ‘Go Lucky Kind’ is good, ole-fashioned, twangy honky-tonk that sounds like it’s been on a bar crawl with the Flying Burrito Brothers, and ‘Rhinestone Salute’ is a shit-kicking boogie that’s been given a good going over at a rodeo. The Band-like ‘Livin’ In The Woods’ is breezy and soulful, with piano, brass and occasional psychedelic guitar flourishes, and ‘Broken Bridges’ could’ve been found in the basement of Big Pink.
Recorded in three days, the album sounds raw, live and energetic. The band – Jack Quiggins (vocals, guitar), Ryan Jennings (vocals, bass), Nic Swafford (drums) and pedal steel player Luke Schneider – as well as Price, wanted to capture that “let’s roll”, Neil Young-inspired recording philosophy. In fact, ‘Dance Floor Blues’ and ‘Drink Better’ both have a slight vintage Young feel about them, but with even more old school country influences at play.
‘Bad Spot’ is humorous stoner country-desert rock – ‘You picked a bad spot to smoke your pot’ – with a whiff of The Byrds’ Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man about it, and the rough-hewn ‘Complacency’ is standard country rock fare, but with some lyrical social commentary that elevates it to a higher status. Closer, the nostalgic ‘Hey Richard’, is a standout – an elegiac ode to Little Richard, that namechecks Buddy Holly and Hank Williams. It’s piano-led, with some great harmonica – a cinematic and gorgeous ballad that evokes early ‘70s Young. ‘After The Goldrush’ comes to mind.
Talking about Teddy and the Rough Riders, Price says: “Given the chance, they will unite the hippies and the cowboys, the bikers and the stoners with their groovy country songs.” Plenty of acts have trodden this path before, but this is a solid and impressive debut. Close up the honky-tonks, throw away the key and give it a listen.