Sons of Fathers
Sons of Fathers
(Blanco River Music)
[Rating: 3.5 stars]
Don’t grab a substitute when you can have the real thing. Now that everyone with a guitar has climbed aboard the Americana music train, listeners have a selection of wanna-be Rodney Crowell, Merle Haggard, John Hiatt artists filling the music bins with their best interpretation of hillbilly mixed with R&B sounds. The problem, of course, is that some of these musicians left their hearts in hard rock, heavy metal or other distinct – and at this writing somewhat less popular – formats than Americana. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the music they create are the sonic equivalent of Little Debbie baked goods –somewhat tasty yet only slightly reminiscent of those made by individuals who lovingly learned the art of baking.
The lesson in music is not to get so caught up in music’s commercial-kitchen offerings that you miss the genuine Americana artistry such as on Sons of Fathers by Sons of Fathers. The Austin-based duo (formerly known as Beck and Cauthen) met by happenstance not long ago, but its sound on their debut album is as familiar and natural as tumbleweeds and longhorns. That’s not to say it’s a Johnny Cash-come lately; there are plenty of contemporary R&B/blues touches to the instrumentation and vocals to make it distinctively the duo’s own. Consider the whining guitars, intermittent keys and just-enough Texas tinged vocals to make “Out of Line” a standout.
Then there’s the title track. If Texas had a theme song you’d play while driving across the Lone Star state that would be a serious contender. The sweet harmonies – telling a tale harkening back to grandpa living for his family and dying by the sword — and softly galloping guitar are full-bore Americana.
It’s not that every song on the album is a sure-fire taste treat. The rambling “Ruthless” is well done, but dips just a bit too much into ’70s-era Elvis for my taste. That’s really a minor quibble and a personal preference, though. The true take away is that Sons of Fathers does Americana proud.