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Adrian and Meredith - More Than a Little (Vertigo Productions)
Nashville is a city filled with Cowboys, Urban and Country and a myriad of 'sat on a stool' James Taylor wannabe songwriters. East Nashville duo Adrian and Meredith cut through it all, decisively and confidently with their own compelling raw roots sound. Part energy infused spit n sawdust bluegrass, part Sun records Rock n Roll, part lofi raw punk, part revival tent carnival attraction roared through a battered bullhorn. Whatever the label it ends up under you cannot deny the energy, the vim, the drive and the sheer feeling that a gritty fun is being had. From the cut and paste sharpie coloured feel of the digi pack sleeve, to the definant posture of the pair looking of the photos, the scuffed work boots and the recorded live to tape ethos, this is an album that makes it way to your stereo on its own terms. It has rough corners, it has life and energy and a sense of real life captured in its being.
Any artifice with the tape effect at the start is blown away by the raw guitar and the rapid fire vocals on Take A Boat the superb opener. On this track and the stomper tack Greasy Coat And Kitchen Girl, Adrian and Meredith's vocals spark off each other and make a compelling sound, as different but perfectly matched as their rock n roll electric guitar and country fiddle. Bank bubbles with the same energy and an infectious old school compressed mike sounding vocals. Adrian on Fixer spits out the lyrics while Meredith roars Imelda May style. Paul Niehaus' Pedal Steel is tasteful and reminiscent of another time. It is his collaborator Paul Burch or the majestically cracked vocal of Willard Grant Conspiracy's Robert Fisher that MORE THAN A LITTLE'S raw punk infused retro swing country most closely recalls. Birthday Cakes is a superb song, weary vocals, emotional waves of pedal steel, dirty electric guitar and the industrially tight drum kit of Aaron Distiler. Composed of train sounds and rythmns from an earlier time this is a music that evokes the expansive prairie landscape. More Than A Little marries Adrian’s raw guitar chords with a bluegrass stomp to make a modern 'grin on your face' Western Swing. This is infectious music that seeps into your being like spilt whisky soaking into an ancient bleached bartop.
Hero is just as glorious, but slowed right down with a that mix of Southern Soul and Celtic mysticism that Mike Scott and The Waterboys hit in their best moments. Hero with its waltzing brass and languid tempo shows that, fast on a road side bar dance song like Get What She Wants or slow on a a track like Fixer this band hits it fully with every track. Country Song with the honesty and integrity that shoots through this album has the pedal steel, country fiddle and crooning vocals to the fore. Southern Call is a call to action song, with a stirring lyric delivered at a breath taking tempo, like a hobo rap over the atmospheric wafting sounds of the fiddle and pedal steel. Old Midwestern Home has an expansive sound, a reflective lyric full of evocative imagery and the rythmn of the rails running through it, a strong closer on an excellent album. Adrian and Meredith declare this album is a love letter to a New Nashville, a call to arms for independently minded artists with true vision and I would agree that this is the sound of a line being drawn and a voice declaring, don’t listen to that…listen to this.