D. Charles Speer Some Forgotten Country

[Sound@One; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: Appalachian rock, psychedelic country, pickin’ and grinnin’
Others: Bill Monroe, Dredd Foole, Asylum Street Spankers, The Pizza Tapes

Under the guise of D. Charles Speer, Dave Shuford (No Neck Blues Band, Egypt is the Magick #, and many other contributions I'm sure I'm overlooking) has ventured into territory most of his avant brethren would dare not enter: songwriting. More so, Shuford tackles the art of crafting verses, choruses, and melodies through the seductive sounds of country. Like garlic and holy water to vampires, country is the bane of any god-questioning, Rivers Cuomo-looking indie kid. I'm sure just as much a travesty it is to dislike , it's even worse to think that indie holds any room for a seemingly defunct genre. Shuford dares not listen to the fools of fashion, delving headfirst into the rich, traditional sounds of Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, and swamps of America's heartland. With such a grab bag of sound, it's a wonder that Shuford is able to keep Some Forgotten Country from collapsing under the weight of too much twang (those adventurous enough to tackle sounds long forgotten realize there’s never too much twang).

The album piles on the good times with back porch blues the likes of "Bound to Ride." Slide guitar and banjo jangles induce violent foot-stomping and rapid hand claps as images of grifters heading to the next one-horse town pass like freight cars before you. The heavy-handed imagery continues with trucker anthem “Tombstone Every Mile,” a track drenched in authentic ‘70s haberdashery — Cash and Haggard would be proud of the spectral ditty. Shuford’s strongest efforts, however, are saved for the psychedelic-laced bluegrass of “Stingray Leather” and “Furze,” as the ghosts at the Armadillo World Headquarters smile a wide grin to hear mandolin alongside blistering guitars.

Some Forgotten Country is the soundtrack that bridges the desperation and worry of now with the desperation and worry of the Dust Bowl, Vietnam, and disco. Country music has always provided a sturdy backbone in this land's time of need, and tossing aside tragic cash-ins from Toby Keith and Alan Jackson, country music will always stand as the blue collar voice amongst the racket of politics and fad. While those within the mainstream have lost sight of the ultimate goal, it's the ignored musicians such as Dave Shuford and the dark honky tonk of Some Forgotten Country that will always provide comfort when it's needed most.

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