Top tunes, twangy guitars and no frills Americana.
Let’s cut to the chase – this record is a blast from start to finish. The twang is the thang here – the guitars are full of treble and tremolo, cutting through the mix as if they were meant to be heard in a Ford pickup, from a radio signal beamed across miles of prairies and canyons.
The arrangements are no-nonsense, like a bar band who have been together long enough to know each others tricks, foibles and capabilities; no room for undue fanciness, only serving the songs and the audience. The songs themselves twitch, fidget and fight their way through their three minutes in the sun, none outstaying their welcome, most demonstrating an urgent, raucous noise that doesn’t forget to sling in a good tune.
Opener ‘Willie McCoy’ shows the way forward, kicking in with a groove that sounds like a cousin of Elvis’ ‘Mystery Train’. A rapid, groove-some shuffle that is intoxicating, and very, very cool – it’s the first song on the album that sounds like it could come off a Tarantino soundtrack, but not the last (check out the roaring title track ‘Nashville Again’, or the wry ‘Cat Eyes’, for example).
One slightly unusual aspect to the record is the inclusion of four instrumentals. This does, on the whole, add to the listening experience, with the pick of them being the bluegrass-y ‘Pikeville’, and the, well, 60’s surf sound of ‘Astrosurf’. Possibly ‘Sparkle’ and ‘Searching For Words’ might have done better as backing tracks for lyrics, but they still sound pretty cool, and do nothing to obstruct the feel of this immensely enjoyable record.
Most of the songs here err on the side of being faster, and that’s a refreshing change from most of the music coming from the mainstream these days. The sound is retro, but unashamedly so. There are echoes of those who have gone before, from Hank Snow to Willie Nelson to Crazy Horse, all wrapped in Sun Studios warmth. The influences are worn lightly, though, and never so obvious as to be copies or pastiche.
This is a band that has developed an identity all of their own – the music is robust and muscular, but there also feels like an absence of any toxic masculinity. When the title track states “It’s that hillbilly spirit that draws us all in”, it genuinely feels like everyone is welcome. Ultimately, though, this isn’t really a record to proselytise too much about – best advice, get it on in the car or the kitchen, and play it loud!