Country Music People December 2017 - Page 41

RYAN KOENIG Two Different Worlds  1/2 Miss Edie / Strugglin’ With A Lot / This Old Main Drag Is About To Drag Me Down / Podemos Si Te Quieres / Am I Still In Your Heart (Or Am I Just In Your Way) / Cheyenne / It Don’t Matter / It’s Easy To See / Pebula, MX / The Last Resident Producer: not listed Big Muddy Records 33:18 Ryan Koenig is a multi-instrumentalist (pretty much you name it he can play it, especially if it has got strings) singer and songwriter who is exceptionally well travelled since playing with Pokey LaFarge since 2008. In his own right he has made an alternative honky tonk as formidable as his facial hair but he has also been known to write and perform hillbilly inspired country tunes as Lonesome Cowboy Ryan. In the photo on his website’s opening page he looks a lot like TOBY KEITH The Bus Songs  Shitty Golfer / Wacky Tobaccy / Runnin’ Block / Brand New Bow / Call A Marine / Hell No / The Critic / The Size I Wear / Ballad Of Balad / Rum Is The Reason / Weed With Willie (Live )/ Get Out Of My Car (Live) Producers: Toby Keith, Bobby Pinson & Mac MacAnally Show Dog 41:57 Robert DeNiro. As well as the traditional honky tonk feel that Koenig brings to Two Different Worlds, I like the way he sings through his nose. He might be one of the most nasally singers I’ve heard this year and it’s particularly suited to this style of music and always a plus point for me. In addition to the honky tonkers at which Koenig is highly adept, this album is lifted to another level for me by the inclusion of a couple of Tex-Mex inspired numbers - Podemos Si Te Quieres would have been perfect for the Texas Tornadoes and Cheyenne which opens with mariachi horns in a Calexico kind of way and that alone immediately won me over. The waltz Am I Still In Your Heart (Or Am I Just In Your Way) owes its all to Webb Pierce honky tonkers and early George Jones records and shouldn’t be missed if either of those are your kind of thing. Whereas It Don’t Matter has much more of a 60s influence. Possibly my favourite track is the waltz It’s Easy To See, but throughout the musician, singer and songwriter, who is able to turn himself to many a country sub-genre, has made a strong contender for my best of year list with Two Different Worlds. A combination of proper gritty honky tonkers, the odd South of the border feel, and a hardcore sound, along with some decent songwriting and Koenig’s vocal style makes for a pretty potent cocktail here. Not only are its roots showing they’ve practically grown out. This is, of course, a world away from stadium pop and walls of guitars and that’s why I like it so much. Koenig keeps it real with music more at home in a smoky little bar than on the back of a pick-up in a stadium car park. It’s records like this that got me into country in the first place and what I’ve been seeking out as much as possible ever since. Duncan Warwick For decades touring bands have amused themselves on long journeys by making up silly songs; often no more than derogatory or plain obscene words to hits by other acts in the same genre but sometimes completely new ones based upon some shared touring/ gigging experience. Perhaps one of the best known of these to be released as a single is Merle’s Okie From Muskogee written after a local Sherriff stopped the bus and told them what was and was not acceptable in his town. My first thought upon seeing this title was that this could well be an extension of that activity; but no, it seems the album title derives from the fact that some of it was recorded on one of Toby Keith’s tour buses. I would have preferred that my original supposition were true, because not much of this is original although, in fairness, some titles have been re-worked for the project. Of the twelve tracks three were on the 2006 album White Trash With Money, original versions of Weed With Willie and The Critic were on Shock’n Y’all which had a 2003 release. The studio version of Get Out Of My Car was on the Bullets In The Gun album and a live version made an appearance as a bonus track on the de-luxe edition of Hope On The Rocks. The two new songs are Shitty Golfer, a self depreciating and amusing lyric which will resonate far more with those who play the game than those who don’t, and Wacky Tobaccy which may have more appeal among those who used to (or even aspire to) partake than those who actually do. Keith has never been a Champion of Political Correctness, and for many fans that is a big part of his appeal. This collection contains redneck attitude in abundance, lyrics clever enough to make you laugh even though you’ve heard them a dozen times before, and enough sexist comments which, if made by politicians would likely bring down an entire government. It’s fun, I can see a benefit to having all these songs on one CD (especially if there’s a bunch of you on a long journey together) but personally I would like to have had more new material. Chris Smith DECEMBER 2017 - cmp 41