The Sound of Bakersfield on Steroids.
I don’t know what constitutes ‘Country Music’ any more; but as Kris Kristofferson once said “If it sounds Country, then it IS Country!” So, using that adage Jeremy Pinnell may look like a Victorian Child Catcher on the album cover; but the songs he writes and music he makes is pure 21st Century Country Music…..but with a very dark streak at it’s heart. Opening song finds Jeremy’s voice creaking at the seams on the Ballad of 1892; a tale of dark nocturnal goings on between a couple on the edge of society sung to a sweet tune; and even the first time I heard it I realised I was listening to an exceptional talent. Track #2 Take The Wheel is the type of naturally swinging Country and Western I associate with the likes of Waylon, Willie and Cash…..but this lad looks and sounds like the ‘real deal’ as he sings from the heart ‘I forgot how much I love music/cos for so long I thought I might lose it’ in a song that touches on the narrator ‘driving in a haze’ and ‘spending time in an institution’ at one stage as he pleads with the woman to ‘please just take the wheel’ – a metaphor for life itself, I think. Don’t for one minute think that this is a ‘sad album’…..no, no, no. The subjects may be stark and tell of a troubled life; but Pinnell and band certainly like a melody and a tune in the old fashioned sense. I Don’t Believe is a beautifully crafted song that nods in the direction of several songs and bands I love; but the rip-snorting pace means you quickly forget about comparisons and just let the lyrics tie you up in knots. Oh Lordy Lord…..how good is I’m Alright With This? The singer chugs along nicely, talking about why he has to stop drinking ‘I got tired of going to jail/every time I drink a beer’ and ‘doing a few lines’ because he now has ‘a good woman with the sweetest kiss’. Tell me that’s not the basis for a great Country song…..I dare you! His ‘Battle with his Devils’ turn up again on Ain’t Nothing Wrong/Ain’t Nothing Right and why his ‘woman in Kentucky’ could be his saviour…..but she’s not with him every day and there are ‘temptations’ around every corner. Pinnell certainly has a way with words and telling a story; current comparisons would obviously be Sam Outlaw or Sturgill Simpson; but Jeremy Pinnell’s songs even more steeped in the Classic Bakersfield Sound than anyone on the current circuit; with songs like Best I Could Do and The Way We See Heaven sounding as contemporary as anything I hear on a daily basis; but could just as easily have been the type of song you would hear in a Honky-Tonk bar anytime between 197o and 1990. I’d not heard of Jeremy Pinnell before receiving this, his second album but the artwork intrigued me and the 9 songs each took my breath away in different ways; as I certainly didn’t expect ‘that face’ to sing Songs this articulate and melodious. Which brings us to our ‘Favourite Track’ Different Kind of Love. Wow…..I’m very nearly lost for words a week after playing it regularly. It’s the type of Classic Country Love Song that you presume isn’t written any more; but it is…and it’s here. This is an album of music to ‘listen to’ but you can dance to it too, the slow smoochy, hanging on for dear life type of dancing.