One of the toughest things you can do in life is admit and own up to your prejudices and bigotries. One prejudice of mine that I've had for decades (besides Asians can't drive) and that I actually resent being given, for our prejudices are taught to us, is the believe that Country Music represents racist, uneducated, uncouth, ill-mannered, alcoholic, ill-tempered, even violent, rural white people (i.e., Trump voters). This is, of course, wrong both factually as well as morally but even when you know, intellectually, something is wrong it still makes you feel a certain way. And if you accept that you are wrong in your believe and attitude it still doesn't prevent you from feeling those bigoted feelings, it just adds guilt and shame on top of them.
When I was a kid I actually used to like Country Music. "Your Cheatin' Heart" (1964),The Hank Williams biopic starring George Hamilton (Crispy Col. Sanders) turned me on to the original Country star, Hank Williams, and on late weekend nights I'd watch "Cal's Corral", a live Country Music show hosted by local used car dealer Cal Worthington. The Beatles played Country songs on their early albums and "Beatles For Sale" is considered the Beatles' Country record with "No Reply", "I'm A Loser", "Baby's In Black", "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby", "Honey Don't" and "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party" being very Country oriented. But over the years, especially in the 60s, the divide between the "cowboys and the Indians (Straights vs Freaks) became wider and wider and Country music came to represent the "other side's" music of choice. I found having to take sides this way sad but it was hard to not reject Country music when songs like Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee" drew the line. Up till then John Cash had been a staple on AM Top Forty Radio alongside The British Invasion and Motown. To make matters worse, "New Country" sounded more like Rock & Roll than Rock & Roll ever sounded like Country and there was a lot about Country Music I really liked such as;
1. The Instrumentation. I'm a guitar player and Country Music is predominately a guitar driven sound. Unlike some rock and pop styles that will go unnamed (Punk), musicianship has always been of very high importance in Country. I also like most string instruments and Country also utilizes banjo, mandolin and sometimes in lieu of the string sections found in Pop and sometimes Rock, Country uses pedal steel guitar.
2. The Clothes. I'm a westerner and what red blooded American boy doesn't love Cowboys? I love Cowboy hats, bluejeans, boots, vests and other western clothes. Unfortunately largely because of the lyrics of a lot of Country songs, unless you actually work on a ranch, dressing like a cowboy makes you look like a huge tool.
3. The Women. I'm a Rocker but I have to admit that for my taste Rock & Roll women can't hold a candle to Country women. I'm not talking about the fans, necessarily, but the performers. There are more, MUCH MORE, strikingly beautiful woman performing Country Music than there are in Rock & Roll. Have you seen Britney Spears' Country video? OMG! I just love that style, on women... but not in music.
So now let us take a listen at the newest of New Country, Michael Van & The Movers' new full length CD, "A Little More Country".
Michael Van & The Movers' "A Little More Country" video.
As you can see by the video "A Little More Country", Michael Van is pretty traditional Country with a predominately acoustic sound, the soulful steel guitar backing and, this being a ballad, sad lyrics coming from a simple man. Certainly nothing offense here but with the mandatory "southern" accent from an act from the San Francisco Bay Area (even a guy from New Hampshire like Garth Brooks sings like he's from Texas), hearing this style of singing just makes me think a night out where this is playing isn't going to end well (i.e., bar fight, DUI, cross burning, etc.).
Okay, I apologize. Let me say I'm just kidding. But really, I'm not someone qualified to review a record like this. I simply don't like Country Music. Again, it's not for the music itself and this CD has first rate production, great (which is standard for most Country I hear) performances and songs I would probably like if done in a different style.
Michael Van & The Movers are Michael Van on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Pete Ahonen on electric guitar, banjo and vocals, Alan Bond on mandolin, fiddle and vocals, Larry Lawson on bass, Bob Skye on drums and harmonica and special guests Mark Bernard Stevenson on pedal steel and Noah Duvernell and Paul Ohnemus on drums. The production, arrangements, mixing and mastering is credited to Michael Van and his band at Flying Monkey Studio.
This is one of those cases where I have to apologize to the band, they're a good band and made a fine record, but it's not what I do here at Rock & Roll Rehab (ROCK & ROLL Rehab). Please check them out for yourself if you like what they refer to themselves as,"Alt-Country". I don't know what makes this "Alt", it seems pretty trad to me although admittedly I didn't listen (because of technical reasons I don't understand) to all their tracks. Check them out here at Soundcloud. If you can't hear anything you had the same problem I did. I think my Flash must be outdated or something,. I don't know (what a pro!).