The best country songs tell great stories. Well, singer-songwriter Zach Schmidt has got a bunch of ‘em. All the better, they are drawn from his own life experiences. The now Nashville-based Schmidt has lived a life of wanderlust, having bicycled across the US and worked on a Texas cattle ranch. No surprise to anyone, Schmidt has met some colorful characters along the way and introduces us to some of them on The Day We Lost the War, his latest album.
Title track and album opener “The Day We Lost the War” tells the tale of a small-town romance, from the moment a wayward drifter arrives until a gun-toting father foils the lovers attempt to escape town. “Her daddy was the wiser to our simple, two bit plan and he met me on the corner, had a pistol in his hand,” sings Schmidt as a chugging backbeat and scampering pedal steel guitar set a rambling tone.
“Dear Memphis” was inspired by someone Schmidt met on the Texas cattle ranch but is otherwise a fictionalized account of the love letters that a fellow ranch hand would send back and forth with his wife in Memphis. “I’ve been out on the road but it’s time to come back home for your presence is the present I’ve longed for,” he professes, a sentiment that she echoes.
“The Favors You Ask,” the song that we’re premiering today, captures the imminently recognizable situation of a friend who is good at asking for favors but not very good at reciprocating. Schmidt’s acoustic guitar sets a gentle and ambling tone as he sings, “The favors that you ask keep me busy, the favors that I seek drive me mad.”
The entire collection sways with a warm and upbeat tone. Even the sad songs have a welcoming air, much of which comes from Schmidt’s voice. He sings with a healthy drawl, his relaxed and polished delivery still managing to convey the dustiness of his travels.
The musical accompaniment is centered around three guitars – Schmidt’s acoustic alongside a winsome pedal steel and a booming electric guitar. The resulting sound recalls the finer moments of classic late 1960s and 1970’s country, the kind that one wants to hear on a Friday night at the local honkytonk.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.