I've never been to Nashville, Tennessee, the country music capital of the world. Careers are made and often broken in this star studded range where the burning pedal steel reigns supreme and there's more twang than a bag of rubber bands.
Cheryl Thibideau cut her latest record, Paper Fire, in Nashville and it shows. It oozes country from every pore and has more shuffle than a shuffleboard tournament. It would be nearly impossible for me to pick this disc out of a lineup of other Nashville fodder, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. Ms. Thibideau's voice has a certain maturity that lets her pull off this Opry-ready singing perfectly. It helps the over-the-top fiddle and slide guitars feel right at home.
Strangely enough, everything on this album feels "over-the-top" but never too much. I think it has something to do with the expert producing and the opportunity to be mastered by Hank Williams. His guiding hands held down that guitar solo and that cheesy drum fill just enough so that they weren't popping out of their blouse.
Paper Fire is an unapologetic country record and fully takes responsibility for its clichéd nature, but what is one to expect from a bi-product of Nashville? The session musicians nailed it, Cheryl nailed it, Hank nailed it. They came out with another shining example of what Nashville does best.
Bruce Springsteen has always made me feel like a proud American ... even though I was born and raised in Saskatchewan. From his anecdotes about blue collar living in New Jersey to his anthems about the hardened brow of the American people themselves, I always want to throw on my tightest Levi's, a white t-shirt, kiss a bald eagle and scream Bruceeeeeeee!
Wrecking Ball is probably the first physical disc I've purchased in three years, but I did pick up the special addition. The opener "We Take Care of Our Own" is undeniably Springsteen. It's Rock and Roll how it was supposed to be. He even included the bell kit and synths like much of his 80's material. I love it. Politically charged and angry, The Boss makes his patriotism and angst very well known. A distrust of the rich and the continuous fight for freedom make up the main theme for the record, a sentiment I think many American's are feeling these days. It's nice to know that someone with as much worldwide success as Bruce can still connect with a nation of people abandoned by the "American Dream". "The Death of My Hometown" is a straightforward call out to the corporations and politicians in charge of killing American jobs, saying that there was no war but 'death' certainly found its way in. And finally, "Wrecking Ball" arrived in all of its anthem glory. I threw on my American flag pin and shed a tear for Detroit.
Gospel undertones begin to arise on the second half of the record, which brought me out of my haze of stars and stripes and more into a realm of confusion. Wrecking Ball comes to a triumphant end with a tune for America's fallen soldiers in its most recent conflicts.
It's comforting to know that Bruce has little interest in "re-inventing" himself like many of his peers. He's still fired up and rallying his troops to fight for what belongs to them. You know what you're getting when you listen to The Boss, though Wrecking Ball is a bit softer than his old stuff, I can't really complain one bit.