When genre borrowing is done well, the results tend to be transformative. The melding of sounds generates a “not quite this; not quite that, but both” effect for the listener and typically the songs have a breadth beyond a single-dimensional approach to music. With that in mind, I give you The Serenaders–an Atlanta-based quartet dealing in matters of all things American music. On their new EP, Don’t Ever Tell her No– think Country instrumentation meets Pop Rock songwriting sentimentality cast in a vein of Rockabilly with the feel good Honky Tonk thrown in for good measure.
“Darlin’ It’s You” is an archetypical Serenaders’ track opening to Country-tinged electric over busy acoustic strum, frantic time-keeping snare work and slightly country fried lyrical delivery (without the typical contrived, “trying too hard” delivery of much of contemporary Country). It’s boot-stomping Honky Tonk with tight technical electric work just under the melody and through to the fills. “How Come” is a melodic strummer that features a Q&A style exchange at the verses with harmonization at the chorus. The track has stronger leanings to Pop than Country, showcasing the diversity on the album. “Roll Away” melds Rock and Country riff work with the chord element on melody while the picking lends the undercurrent and fill duties. If Paul Westerberg went a Country route I would venture it would sound a lot like this. Title track “Tell Her No” returns to the Rockabilly pace of “Darlin’” with more string-busting, strum-led acoustic and intermittent electric. The light-hearted lyrical message adds an element of “catchy-not-kitschy” to the track.
This album is just fun and I would say the “Country experiment” is a successful one. From a listener’s standpoint, I tend to not favor contemporary Country (and that’s putting it mildly) but The Serenaders seem to have found a way to channel all the positive, good facets of the genre into their tracks, eschewing the contrived and often forced feeling one gets out of Nashville Pop Country. In its place is the instrumentation and the sound but from song to song, there is a feeling of genuine and organic music making in the vein of Country. And in this case, that isn’t a bad thing at all.
Christopher West – firstname.lastname@example.org