Postmodern Americana from Nashville-based The Deslondes.
Is there such a thing as Postmodern Americana? My internet search found no matches, so I guess I’ve coined the phrase, inspired by the latest release from Nashville-based The Deslondes. ‘Ways and Means’ is their follow up to their 2017 album ‘Hurry Home’, and its 14 tracks take the listener to many corners of the broad genre that is Americana, and beyond, with hints of 1960’s pop, soul and psychadelia, and even bubble-gum pop.
If there’s a unifying thread it’s a low-fi sound, high on reverb, giving the album a distinctive character from the get go on opening track ‘Good to Go’, with muffled keys, chilled harmony vocals, a fiddle solo sounding as if were recorded in the distant corner of a cavernous hall, and a distorted guitar outro.
We’re in similar sonic territory in ‘Five Year Plan’, which has a spacey feel, and it’s lyrics explore the reality of the American dream “Well I’m all grown up, but I feel like a kid/ I want an Abba-Zaba and a Mr. Pibb/ I want a tax return and a souvenir/ I want some time to burn and an ice cold beer/ I got a storage unit that’s full of dreams/ Keys on the desk, bike by the shed, text in my jeans/ It’s from my mom, it’s a link to a Rumi poem/ While down the street at people’s park/ people try to make a home/ And I could be a better man”.
Title track ‘Ways and Means’ has a full on cool 60’s vibe with Hammond-esque keys, in the style of the UK’s Artwoods, with an insistent beat reminicent of the Archies ‘Sugar, Sugar’, and features Margo Price on backing vocals.
Taking us closer to country music roots, ‘South Dakota Wild One’ is a classic story song, with harmonica intro and earthier vocals, telling “She was a South Dakota wild one/ Grew up on the hippie farm/ Just outside of a small town/ Where life can grab you by the arm/ I never knew about her daddy/ But her momma had two strong arms/ And a nice guitar pickin’ man/ Who tried to keep her warm.”
‘Howl at the Moon’ adds more ear candy, with that retro feel summoned up with harpischord and the unexpected entry of flute in the instrumental. ‘Home Again’ has lyrics rooted in knowing nostalgia, against a CCR style guitar riff, while ‘Wild Again’ has hints of the Beach Boys ‘And Then I Kissed Her’.
In their own words, The Deslondes remain Dan Cutler, Sam Doores, Riley Downing, Cameron Snyder, and John James Tourville, with production and recording by Andrija Tokic at The Bomb Shelter, Nashville. In addition to Margo Price’s vocals on ‘Ways & Means’ Twain is credited with backing vocals on ‘Consider Me’ ‘Howl at the Moon’, ‘Wild Eden’, ‘Dunes’, Tomorrow Morning’, Bound by Love’, and ‘Sweet Release’ and Billy Contreras for strings on ‘Wild Eden’, ‘Standing Still’, and ‘Bound by Love’.
A rich mix offers plenty to please the ears, and justify the newly minted ‘Postmodern Americana’ label.
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