Friday, April 8, 2011
Country Music has it's own version of the runaway train that is today's pop music...and its called Country Music. Tilting and churning wildly with hype and fueled down the tracks by big business studios pushing garbage into the furnace and heralding the smoke that bellows from the stacks as worthy tenure for ten dollar festival beers and brokered ad revenue campaigns...long has it been since Country was ridden by the enlightened. Some time in the late eighties around the twilight albums of Country and Western greats like Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, it happened quietly and soberingly in the darkness. Miles way from the glow of Austin and well before the deafening brightness of Nashville, the believers inconspicuously separated themselves from the crazed fakeblood hijackers gathering toward the few cars at the back of the train. With a collective nod they kicked loose the coupler and let the Country part of the train throttle toward oblivion, then switched the tracks and rode a coasting Western into a salvaging sunset. Slingshot Cash front man Jonathan Ackley stood on the deck of the caboose and with a harmonica in hand, softly played taps.
Now experienced with a lifetime of riding that Western train, Ackley identifies once again with the side he chose by releasing From Aftermath to Exile, an album that plants a boot heal in the dirt and drags a line between the normal understandings of modern burgeoning Country and gentleman's Western. Well slid slide guitar, haunting harmonica, and a galloping six string Gretsch electric demarcate the album's Western zip code while Ackley's stylized twangy crooning spot the album an unmistakable identity. The rhythm section behind the microphone has effortless and natural poise. Track three "Miss Singapore" is a Southern roots whip cracker that is bestowed with the most natural shine and it represents the honky-tonking half of the album well. Reminiscent of Stones country tracks like "Honky Tonk Women" it is a rollicking guitar song that out paces its own lyrics until the third or forth listen when your mind finally catches up and hears something other than the bounce and lift of a western tuned guitar.
There was a time when Country and Western music flowed from the AM radio on the nightstand as we drifted to sleep, those are called glory days. There are very few making modern independent rock who are old enough to remember it, and even fewer brave enough to recapture its spirit in new writings and recordings. Tip the hat to Slingshot Cash for the memories. --Carrboro Ninja