Stand up bass and pedal steel galore, Adam Lee & The Dead Horse Sound Company create what you might call ‘traditional’ country music. The big bass pumps through the speakers and the pedal steel cries out in every creak, crack, and corner of every song. Adam Lee’s deep belt is an interesting cross between Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Fortunately, he sings with enough edge to make the classic country pastiche work for him and the band.
The record’s theme spans every facet of life. By that I mean that more than half the songs concern heavy drinking and inevitable destruction to follow. As a wise man once said, “beer is the answer and the solution to all life’s problems.” From songs like “Whiskey for Breakfast”, “Liquor’s a Prison”, and “Drinking, Cheating, Loving, and Leaving”, it is clear than Adam Lee and Company have had their share of both problems and solutions.
Easily the best song on the record, “Misery to Ruin” is buried in the middle of the record. A folk-ier tune that is more Whiskeytown than Willie Nelson, it proves, if nothing else, that Adam Lee isn’t afraid to shed the nudie suit, even if just for a song. Another stand out song is the exquisite duet with Abigail Henderson on “Wishful Drinking”, which conjures up the mystical sound of the late great Roy Orbison as Henderson and Lee’s vocals soar to new heights. The song is quickly followed by the clearly Johnny Cash inspired “Nashville”. With staccato verses and lines like “I’ve been running since I gunned down the law,” it seems to be begging for “Folsom Prison Blues” comparisons. But, I guess the man in black isn’t such bad company to be associating yourself with.
There are lots of bands out there doing ‘traditional (read retro)’ country music. 3 things distinguish Adam Lee and Co. from these bands: 1) When the Spirits Move Me is well recorded in stereo and sounds great (in comparison to the flat mono mixes of other ‘traditional’ bands), 2) Adam Lee writes some killer songs and while the honky-tonk numbers are solid to good, he really shines on “Misery to Ruin” and “Broken Wings”, and 3) they play a lot with John Moreland, who is so badass his mere presence turns straight country musicians into rock and rollers.
Covering Johnny Cash….
About the author: Specializes in Dead, Drunk, and Nakedness..... Former College Radio DJ and Current Craft Beer Nerd