Country Music People May 2019 - Page 50

albumreviews LAUREN JENKINS No Saint  1/2 Give Up The Ghost / You’ll Never Know / Maker’s Mark And You / Payday / No Saint / Running Out Of Road / Cadillac / My Bar / All Good Things / Blood Producers: Julian Raymond & Lauren Jenkins Big Machine 36:11 Texas born but raised in Carolina, Lauren Jenkins has spent the last 10 years getting to know the entertainment business, often working in background roles in film and videos but all the while writing songs and learning how to tell stories. She says her biggest influence is Bruce ANTHONY MILLS Blue Collar Work Ethic  Barefoot In Pineville / Blue Collar Work Ethic / Country / Cowboys And Engines / Jook Joint / Louisiana / Me And The Bottle / Mr. Fame / Trouble / White Baby Doll / Wild Wild West / Stetson Producer: David Belafonte Icons Creating Evil Art 40:26 When Lil Nas X is hitting the headlines (and the charts) it seems rather fitting to be reviewing Anthony Mills’ Blue Collar Work Ethic. Listening to it I couldn’t help wondering if certain tracks from this might have inspired Nas. The thing is, there are tracks here that wipe the floor with Old Town Road. Mills has Louisiana heritage and his Blue Collar Work Ethic is one of the American south. He comes from a background of hip-hop and 50 cmp - MAY 2019 Springsteen. Now at the age of 27, Lauren is releasing her first album, No Saint, and she was promoting it to good effect at the recent C2C festival in London. The front cover is stunning and I like the way her handwritten lyrics and photographs are used in the CD booklet. However, this record is not country music by a country mile. It is not even Americana though I am not going to mark it down for that as the editor has sent it for review and clearly deems it worthy of CMP. No, what marks it down is a lack of originality. The repetitive “I need to know, I need to know” from the opening cut, Give Up The Ghost is certainly memorable but it is a total steal from Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine: I also detected traces of Mr Withers in Running Out Of Road and All Good Things. You’ll Never Know owes something to Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain, and as for Payday, this is just Amy Winehouse’s Rehab revisited. The full on rock sound is okay but on her website I found an acoustic version of Running Out Of Road, which I preferred. She is playing guitar on this version and as I couldn’t find her name among the musician credits for the album, I presume that she is not playing on her record. The musicians include such familiar names as Dan Dugmore on steel and Pat Buchanan on guitar. All the songs are co-writes, sometimes by four people, which leads to some protracted publishing credits, sometimes stretching to 12 lines. Why should anyone outside the industry be the slightest bit interested in this? And shouldn’t they be somewhat longer anyway to acknowledge the bits taken from elsewhere? Spencer Leigh production and was tempted to experiment with this style of storytelling by his producer David Belafonte. This presents an interesting take on southern music, with Mills favouring what appears to be a mostly DIY approach with guitar loops and such, and the end result includes some fine moments. Not everything works brilliantly, and certainly not as brilliantly as Me And The Bottle which is the standout track here by some way. Trouble was a single, and Mills might be kicking himself for not putting together a video pulled from Red Dead Redemption footage to accompany the track, but its insistent guitar and plodding rhythm track fit nicely with the ‘threat’ of the lyrics and the image of Mills in cowboy hat and bandana like a Wild West bank robber is a powerful image. What he has to say on White Baby Doll is certainly bringing something new to the genre and while there is even more debate than usual about what is and isn’t country at the moment and this is likely to be dismissed by many because the hip-hop roots are pretty obvious. However, Anthony Mills sings rather than raps and to my ears this is not only more country than a lot of mainstream fodder, it is preferable to it. There is innovation here, and there is a blending of styles that much of the country media are always on about, but I suspect this won’t even be a blip on their radar. It should be. Me And The Bottle seriously deserves some attention. If the rest of the album had focussed a little more on melody I get the feeling this could have been something special. As it is though it’s way more interesting than a lot of releases and forward thinking of Icons Creating Evil Art, who are Stockholm based, to put it out. Ultimately, no, of course it’s not country, but it is undoubtedly Americana, and if your umbrella is wide it is worth checking out. Duncan Warwick