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

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the FRONT COUNTRY – Other Love Songs link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

Artists’ website: www.frontcountryband.com

‘If Something Breaks’ live:

FRONT COUNTRY – Sake Of The Sound (Own Label)

Front CountryThere are exciting things happening in the world of Americana right now, not least the debut album from the sextet from California called Front Country.

With the opening track, ‘Gospel Train’, they invent a new genre – bluegrass-soul – mixing the instrumentation and melodies of traditional bluegrass and country with the passion of soul music. It reappears again in the chorus of Utah Phillips’ ‘Rock Salt & Nails’ in which producer Kai Welch augments the voices of Melody Walker, Jacob Groopman and Jordan Klein. They’re no one-trick pony, however. Adam Roszkiewicz’s ‘Daysleeper’ is a pretty instrumental and Walker’s ‘Undertaker’ starts off quite gently but she can’t help herself and her magnificent voice gets the better of her. Either Groopman or Klein gives her a brief break on ‘Glacier Song’ but Klein’s banjo remains a dominant part of the band’s sound as does Leif Karlstrom’s fiddle.

Four of the tracks are originals but the band are imaginative in their selection of covers. Alongside Utah Phillips is Bob Dylan’s ‘Long Ago, Far Away’ and you need to be a completist to have the original of that. There are songs from young writers like Laura Wortman of The Honey Dewdrops and Sarah Siskind as well as the late Kate Wolf but all meld together under the skilled arrangements. For any band this would be a damn fine album; for a debut it’s nothing short of exceptional.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album, download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually available on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.

Artists’ website: http://www.frontcountryband.com

‘Rock Salt & Nails’ live – knockout song: