If you didn’t spend November through March in Michigan, you didn’t miss much. Unless of course, you consider a ridiculous amount of cold, white snow something worth being around for. This winter brought brought 85 inches of snow to the “Mitten”, the most since the ’04-’05 season. I’m not really a “winter sports” person, so when I wasn’t traveling, I mostly listened to music that reminded me that summer is ahead.
For some reason, alt country was what got me through the tundra-like winter. Not the beer guzzling, American flag waving, pick-up truck love filled country music that I love at tailgates and boat rides in Pinckney. I’m talking about the story-filled, folk flavored country rock, where banjos and fiddles are required and their usually aren’t happy endings. And this is where I lose most of you….but its honestly worth a listen.
I blame Neko Case for her turning me onto the genre with the masterpiece, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Her haunting voice, amid the twang and blues inspired narratives, is hard to ignore. When I looked for more of her music, I ran across her frequent collaborators, The Sadies. The Sadies are also natives of Canada (Toronto, ON) recorded with Case on a few tracks (“Make Your Bed”, “My ’63) and co-wrote some of Case’s aforementioned album.
Their newest album, New Seasons, was released in fall 2007 and is the perfect soundtrack for a backwoods summer. According to their website, the band wanted to focus more on lyrics on this 13 song compilation. Considering that many of the songs deal with leaving or moving on from something, its fitting that many of the tracks (“Anna Leigh”, “The Land Between”) sound tailored for a long drive, with the windows down.
Most of the songs have elements of country, bluegrass, and ’60s folk rock resulting in the feel of a backyard bonfire (“Never Again”, “Sunset to Dawn”). Standout “Whats Left Behind” profiles a relationship that can’t get away from the past. The song’s pace seems to echo the subject matter in that things are moving too fast, but going nowhere at the same time. The Sadies even manage to sound epic on the instrumental track, “The Last Inquisition Pt 4”. The eerie strings at the start lead to a finish full of sweeping guitars and drums that sound like an old western standoff.
The Sadies’ New Seasons could be the most overlooked alt country album of 2007, but shouldn’t be missed. The dark and thoughtful narratives embedded in the layered, instrumentation throughout the album make for easy, but engaged listening.