You could be forgiven if you looked at Jeremy Pinnell and didn't expect country music. Then again, it also says something about why you shouldn't make assumptions about people based on their appearance. Country (and old-time country sounds at that) is what you'll hear in every song of Ties of Blood and Affection.
Right from the beginning of the album, you can't help but think about Waylon Jennings when you hear Pinnell's vocals. It's not just the vocals either. The melody of "The Ballad of 1892" is pretty reminiscent of Waylon's signature honky-tonk sound too. This is a song that is made for a dark honky tonk with a wooden floor that is covered with sawdust.
Pinnell also has a way of grabbing your attention with his lyrics. "I Don't Believe" opens with the lyrics. "A little bit of cussin' and a little bit of fussin' keep me busy on a Saturday night." He goes on to sing that he doesn't believe in a long, black train or a lake of fire, but does believe "that we can all be free". This is an uptempo song that will have you moving - especially when the pedal steel is featured in the instrumental break.
"Best I Could Do" is at the other end of the spectrum as far as tempo. This is a slower, introspective ballad in which Pinnell wonders, "When I stand before my maker, I'll know I did the best I could do." This song catches the attention because the message is universal. We all wonder if we're doing the best we can. This also catches the attention because it's easy to imagine couples slow dancing to this song.
This album is a little surprising because you don't come across many albums that are as pure country as this one. It's closer to Whitey Morgan and The 78s than it is to any of the music coming out of Nashville currently. That's not a bad thing. If you're a fan of classic country, this is an album you should add to your collection - not to mention your heavy rotation. Ties of Blood and Affection (Sofaburn Records) will be available on Aug. 11.