The return of Oregon Americana-rock band The Dry County Crooks, reformed, reflective and re-energised.
The Dry County Crooks are an exciting and energetic band from Portland, Oregon and ‘Life, Love And Death’ is their new EP, a collection of five songs that tackle regret, humility, love, pain and hope. “Somewhere between Johnny Cash, Social Distortion, and the Ramones lives The Dry County Crooks,” says Troy Stutzman, drummer of this Americana-rock group who formed way back in 2001, disbanded in 2011, but then reformed in 2019. Fronted by Vinny D. (acoustic guitar/vocals), and rounded out by electric guitarist Paul Becker and bassist and backing vocalist Johnny “Blaze” Stanford, the quartet is back and in great form, very much picking up where they left off following 2001’s ‘Live At The Mt. Tabor Theater’, 2003’s ‘The One That Got Away‘, 2005’s ‘Wrong Side of the Tracks‘ and 2008’s ‘When Hearts Break‘.
“Be careful, be kind,” says frontman Vinny D., discussing the theme of the new EP, which includes songs written several years ago alongside more recent compositions. It was his struggle with addiction and mental health issues which led to the initial disbandment of the band, but now, sober and working as a Peer Support Specialist, with a clear mind and a healthy body, all involved felt the time was right to reform, get out gigging, and finally return to the studio, where Jason Carter skillfully recorded, mixed and mastered the songs. “Carter was incredible to work with,” adds Stutzman. “I’m also so pleasantly surprised how seamlessly it fits in with the Crooks catalogue, without sounding repetitive. Vinny D. combines timeless melody with real-life stories of family, faith, love, life, and death.”
The great melodies of the songs certainly get you hooked; the choruses of opener ‘Broken Bond‘ and then ‘Dallas, Oregon‘ have been on repeat in my head since the first listen! Things slow down on ‘Picture In Time‘, with electric guitar to the fore, then pick up again on ‘Sad Season‘, where Vinny D. and Stanford share lead vocals and harmonise superbly together. Then all too quickly it’s the title track, with shades of Tom Petty, completing the five songs.
‘Life, Love And Death‘ leaves you wanting more, and hopefully we won’t have too long to wait until we hear more new music from The Dry County Crooks; the band have clearly really re-connected and enjoyed the collaborative process, and this EP is set to be the start of a very exciting new chapter.