The Village Prairie “Bolt From the Blue”

Independent, 2024

Debut release that captures heartbreak in the heartland.

“Bolt From the Blue” is the debut release of The Village Prairie from Kansas City in the heart of the U.S. The Village Prairie, a project created in 2018 around the songs of singer-songwriter Kyle Aaron, has since morphed into its current line-up. This includes Dan Kiddle on lead guitar, Nicki White on guitar and vocals, Tony Batenhorst on drums, Joe Mentesana on bass, and Leo Johns on piano.

Aaron has assembled a great group of musicians. They are adept at various styles of song, moving easily from classic rock to country with a hint of blues and folk. Kiddle’s guitar work is particularly good, reminiscent of 1970s rock guitar slingers.  Johns’ keyboard playing gives it a honkytonk vibe. The rest of the band works with Kiddle and Johns to provide a solid backup to Aaron’s vocals.

The album, ostensibly a tribute to Aaron’s late sister Moira, conveys a sense of profound loss. This is particularly true of several songs such as “Walking Slow” and “A Bolt From the Blue”. Much of the rest of the album seems as much about the loss of the American dream as individual pain.

This is Americana for today.  It’s the sound and songs one would expect to go down well in a neighbourhood bar in the Rust Belt. It evokes an image, perhaps of a bunch of guys lined up along the bar reluctantly sliding into middle age with the realization that things are no longer as great as in their father’s day and probably aren’t going to get much better.  They know the sorrow of lost romance and the pain of daily disappointment. The song “Shitty Christmas” sums up the loss and loneliness.

“Only Fans” is a great lament for today: “My girlfriend’s got an Only Fans…she cleared 800,000 grand and now I’m out love”. It goes on to lament the life of an Uber driver and a boomer’s advice that “a little sweat and son you’ll do just fine/thoughts and prayers ain’t never paid my rent or the mortgage on my parent’s basement.” In just under five minutes, we’re given a deep look at the life of many young American men today.

A number of other songs continue the theme of disappointment and lost dreams, often contrasting today’s experiences with cultural references from the past including a 1960’s TV shows and a gag line from the counter-cultural comedy troupe `the Firesign Theater. “Knew A Guy” may be the first song since the J Geils 1981 hit to use the word use Centerfold and “Life Goes On” echoes Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe.”

The 11 songs on “Bolt From the Blue” would be a welcome accompaniment to an evening with the boys, with a bottle of Jack and some brewskis to wash down the disappointment. These are songs to which they might want to sing along, after a few boilermakers. These are songs that tell their stories.

7/10
7/10

About Michael Macy 50 Articles
Grew up in the American Midwest and bounced around a bit until settling in London. Wherever I've been, whatever I have done, has been to sound of Americana. It is a real privilege to be part of this site, discover new music and write about it.
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