Never underestimate the imagery a good audio track can create. Fifteen seconds into the opening song of Green Corn Revival’s first full length effort, Say You’re A Sinner, all I could think about were Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. Part One, as the track is called, is an avant garde country number with soaring background harmonies and a solid blast of trumpets. In fact, the whole effort seems like it was conceived with a retro spirit and vinyl in mind. The songs in the first half feel very 50’s-ish. Then a similar song to the opener, this time called Part Two, comes on and the second half has its own separate feel.
The two main protagonists for the album are vocalists Natalie Houck and Jared Deck. Although either of them could probably carry the group with no problem, their concerted effort provides some great moments. On Never That Easy there’s just the slightest delay between the two voices singing the same lyrics making for a distinct sound. Only Love starts with some nice piano and pedal steel and with Natalie’s vocals could easily be a Patsy Cline number. The Ryan’s vocals come in and add a fullness Owen Marshall couldn’t achieve with Cline using 50’s technology. Although it’s just him singing on Watching Over Me, there’s a similar effect except it’s Roy Orbison they’re idolizing.
Side 2, er, I mean the second half of the record, moves more into a 70’s feel. Going Back To Austin has a bit of art rock to it, but even better there’s some Duane Allman style tasty guitar licks. Hang On evokes Roxy Music, and should be called the husband’s song for the chorus of “you were right, dear”. The album finishes with Blue Water and the passionate, angst-filled wailing of Marty Balin and Grace Slick, circa 1967 Jefferson Airplane.
I mentioned a lot of artists Say You’re a Sinner brought to mind. In no way are Green Corn Revival a thinly disguised cover band, though. They’re starting from the idea that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and then they’re building their own style and sound on top of it. The result is a thematic journey that weaves its way through the sound of some great Americana artists, but is a solid effort even if you’ve never heard the pioneers that inspired it.
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