As the US country scene continues to expand into new areas such as rap it is only inevitable that the UK scene should do the same. Anyone who has heard the music running under a recent DFS advert would be familiar with the work of a group called The Boy Least Likely To and their minor classic “Be Gentle With Me”. They have now formed into a country band called “The Legends Of Country”, a band that displays a knowing awareness of Country music and have blended it with a touch of indy awareness. They’ve also bagged slots at the 2017 C2C festival and are going to be well worth looking out for.
Initially many of the songs may start with the instrumentation of a basic Johnny Cash song, but on top of that is layered distinctly UK country playing and an undoubted UK lyrical outlook. An example would be “When We Talk About Country” which one moment is lauding Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors”, or Tanya Tucker singing “Delta Dawn” and ends with the couple in the song eschewing Nashville for a “weekend in Whitstable”!
The mixture of knowing Country and yet humorous references could be construed as some sort of joke were it not done with such warmth. On “If I Knew What I Was Doing I’d Be Dangerous” there are lines like “We’d have a little Bijon Frise and be living on Hampstead Heath”, or “I’d be sitting on my yacht smoking Willie Nelson’s pot” the latter being a line you’d only appreciate if you were a true Country fan.
The thin line between humour and tragedy is occasionally very blurred. “Saturday Dads” in many ways is as traditional a country song as you can get, while at the same time it is quintessentially English as the singer laments about the little time he has spent with his son and is trying to reignite the relationship six years after leaving.. It perfectly captures the awkwardness of being close to someone that you hardly know, reduced to asking about school and not knowing “anywhere else around here to go”. He ponders on the times that he had missed, "fixing, bikes, baking cakes , meeting you at the school gates". It ends with the boy saying that he’s had the “most amazing day” which only breaks the Dad’s heart more. The dark humour though is never far from the surface as the singer can't resist checking his "phone for the football scores while you talk about dinosaurs"
“Different Planets” is another song where things are played with a straight bat, it has a touch of Chris Difford's style about it as the singer details a split where the couple have grown “so far apart”, that they need “our own space”. It is very touching when he sings “I know you love me too and that’s what breaks my heart”
I’m pretty sure that no US artist has ever penned a song like “It’s A long Way Back From A Dream” detailing one man’s unsuccessful attempt to win a Darts tournament. This man’s mission is channeled through Country music, “driving down the M4 on New Year’s Eve” when “Crystal Gale came on the radio”.
It’s a hugely enjoyable record and I for one shall certainly be keeping an eye out for their O2 debut!