George Ducas | Yellow Rose Motel | (Loud Ranch Records)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
These days, there’s a distinct divide between what’s defined as commercial country and the sounds that fall under the broad umbrella of abject Americana. Granted, labels are often too broad to be succinctly defined, but the fact is that much of what’s shared on contemporary radio is a far cry from the sounds that originated with, Hank Williams, Bill Monroe or Patsy Cline.
The purists frequently dismiss today’s modern music as “frat rock” or worse, pop tunes pawned off on the masses by glittery performers sporting cowboy hats and sequinned stage gear, often accompanied by an array of dancers and all the other accoutrements deemed necessary for modern showbiz schtick.
Americana, on the other hand, generally attempts to take up the slack by tapping into tradition while still maintaining its contemporary credence. Nevertheless, it too makes concessions to modern mores and sometimes falls victim to its own trendy instincts as well.
George Ducas appears intent on finding a common connection between both worlds. Texas-born and reared on a musical diet consisting of Guy Clark, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker and Guy Clark, he picked up a guitar at the age of 12 and later embarked on a profitable music career that encompasses four albums, numerous songs written for other artists and tours with the likes of Alan Jackson, The Mavericks, Reba McEntire, and Toby Keith, among many others.
Based on his background, it would seem Ducas could be a credible contender for whichever path he chose to pursue. While several songs on Yellow Rose Hotel fit the current radio regimen — specifically the good ‘ole boy rabble rousing delivery of “Baby Mama,” “I’m All In,” “I Got This,” and “Cold Bud” in particular — certain songs, “Country Badass” being the best example, decry the posers and pretenders who try to appeal to the masses through their phoney blue collar sentiment. “I wish I could keep my own work boots that clean,” Ducas sneers at one point during the song. On the other hand, other tracks like “Eastwood” and “Old Times” find him singing the praises of the Everyman with a conviction and defiance that leaves no doubt as to the folks with whom he identifies.
As a result, Yellow Rose Motel appears to tread a line between typical stadium-sized anthems and the more reflective musings of a tender singer/songwriter. Of course there’s no doubt that the songs that make the bigger noise will inevitably provide his the path forward, especially given the greater rewards that generally accompany a more upbeat attitude. Yet for now at least, the motel that he references is clearly equipped to accommodate whatever he offers.