FRONT COUNTRY – Other Love Songs (Organic Records OR16882)

Other Love SongsWhat I really like about Front Country is the way they take the styles of country music, its bones if you like, and take them off somewhere new. Other Love Songs is only their second album and already they sound like they’ve been doing this for years. Take ‘Storms Are On The Ocean’, for example. It’s a traditional song first recorded by the Carter Family and is equally well known as ’10,000 Miles’ or ‘Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot’. You can imagine it as a country waltz but Front Country add some rock’n’roll. Guitarist/vocalist Jacob Groopman says that the band hopes it both delights and offends. I think they have succeeded – there can be no middle ground.

Unlike their debut album, Sake Of The Sound, which was largely covers, the majority of the songs here are written by lead vocalist/guitarist Melody Walker with two instrumentals by Adam Roszkiewicz and one other cover. The opener, ‘If Something Breaks’, is one of Melody’s best songs – a description of a relationship masquerading as a road movie. “If something breaks, we can fix it on the road” is the key line and if that isn’t a description of a sound relationship, I don’t know what is.

‘Lonesome Town’ is a look back to their country roots with soaring fiddle from Leif Karlstrom but with a hard, urban edge and ‘I Don’t Wanna Die Angry’ and ‘Good Side’ are painful love songs. The former is about a “hard headed girl” who is probably the author of her own romantic misfortunes while the latter comes from someone who is very insecure, pleading with her lover to see her best side. The other cover is David Olney’s ‘Millionaire’, a song of appalling cynicism that is a perfect match for today’s political climate.

Other Love Songs is a remarkably good album packed with fine songs. Enjoy it on your next road trip or curled up in your favourite chair – it will be equally satisfying.

Dai Jeffries

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