Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

Funky Nashville “Hitch a Ride” Review

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Funky Nashville. The name alone screams “DON’T LISTEN TO ME!” This coming from the perspective of someone who has listened to countless “funky” country bands in America’s Midwest, all dripping of country-fried arrogance, all finding it troublesome to muster any real sense of musical identity. What if, just what if, this band was an ironic take on pop country that has seemingly swept the heartland? I had to explore.

While in university, a professor once made comment on a friend of hers who had started up a country-western themed bar in Germany. It was one of the most popular places in the city and reeked of stereotypical Western-themed American representations. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, 10, 15 and 20 gallon hats, six-shooters, lassos and more line-dancing than even Gretchen Wilson could handle. And some 4500 miles away from Ms. Wilson’s Pocahontas, Illinois beginnings lived some real redneck women, and they eat, sleep and drink this bizarre country lifestyle.

Reforming as Funky Nashville, members of a previously successful Danish band Weatherbeat, Sverre Stein Nelson, Mads Mazanti and Thomas Engelhardt took a similar picture of country western that they can collected throughout their travels and ran with it all the way to the recording studio.

As the album progresses it becomes refreshing to hear smooth vocals wrestling the steel guitar & dobro, pop-like beats staring down a Fist Full of Dollars and all without a hint of irony. There is a distinction that must be made between this Denmark country-inspired band and American pop-inspired country. Funky Nashville is seemingly authentic in its approach; the band takes its pop history and adjusts their sound based on the outlaw history they’ve researched, compared to any number of bands with little historical knowledge and questionable musical intentions. I’m looking at you Rascal Flatts.

At times however the band sounds like the Pilgrim-era Eric Clapton. They do in the sense that Clapton collaborated with pop-darling Babyface for reasons of musical expansion when it was completely unnecessary. In doing so, the album resonates as being shallow and out of place. Hitch a Ride sounds at times like it doesn’t belong, no matter what the context. But sit back and remember what exactly it is you’re listening to, and recognize that this music is coming from another universe where country music isn’t a way of life. There are no “seriously, I’m from the South” over the top accents in this universe. Cowboy Troy isn’t a central character in the country music scene in this universe. Big & Rich aren’t heroes to hundreds of thousands of working class music fans in this universe.

I believe that there are many here, in America who truly enjoy a strong country song, even a pop-country song, but are deluded due to the demonizing influence that Clear Channel and other corporate influences have had on the genre. And for those people, Funky Nashville will sound like a true domestic slice of Americana, despite in reality being far from it.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]