Dixie Republic Music [Release date 30.01.15]
Dixie Republic is a Nashville based trio with a big sound and a retro bent, who pen heartfelt songs that mirror both their culture and beliefs.
However, once they stated their outlook as on the opening ‘Dixie republic’ they struggle to breakout of the one dimensional grip of country tinged southern rock, though the Gary Stephenson’s wistful melody ‘Ballerina Girl’ – full of sparkling guitars, fleeting harmonics and nuanced strings – suggests they are capable of better.
‘Dixie Republic’ tells us: “we like to live the Redneck way” and “yes mam and no sir is what we say, You can take it or leave it, we were born that way”.
They also tell us that this album aims to write a new style of country music by mixing 80’s hair metal with southern rock. It does no such thing, as ‘Redneck Way’ is an unashamed attempt to cash in the current popularity of heartland rock in the states.
If the aim of the album is to mix hard rock with country, they’ve got there too late, and maybe explains why they are trying to export their retro redneck rock toEurope.
‘Dixie Republic’ is built on a solid musical foundation with tidy playing and good hooks, but by the time you get to ‘40 Miles’ the southern redneck signifyers get a bit weary.
The band set out their stall on ‘Dixie Republic’, extolling their southern lifestyle, with its Lynyrd Skynryd anthem, churches, shotguns, cotton, tobacco, trucks and George Jones on the radio. And for most of the rest of the album they reference that lifestyle, from the country rock ballad, ‘Backroad Honeymoon’, to the title track and the political ‘I Believe’, a track that paints a romantic libertarian picture, but chooses to ignore the corporate reality of contemporary times.
Chris Haithcoat’s ‘Alabama Dead’ is a good song, and why wouldn’t it be, when it steals its opening guitar lines from Skynyrd and adds Outlaws style harmonies.
The cleverly titled band composition ‘Metro Cowgirl’, is built on some big southern rock riffs and a recycled refrain: “You can take the girl out of the country, can’t take the country out of the girl.”
They add a big orchestral arrangement on ‘Jesus Tattoo’ as they invoke us to follow the good book: “and you might have 15 pierces, ‘cos that’s what people do, as for me I’ve got a Jesus Tattoo.’
It features Kevin Beard’s best vocal, and his nasal tenor gives the song an uplifting quality, not unlike on one of those big Meatloaf affairs.
They rock out on the retro ‘Son Of A Gun’, all cymbal grabs, crunching T Rex style guitars, and an 80’s chorus, and finish with the stirring ballad ‘Angel Wings’.
Going by the title alone, ‘Redneck Way’ will have a limited market. At its best, this album rocks solidly, soars with some great harmonies and reaches beyond its clichéd lyrics with some big arrangement, but ultimately fails in its task to break new ground.
On the contrary, it steps back from the intensity and challenge of rock music and aims squarely for the kind of nostalgic pull that has given both their native Nashville and country music its durability. Nothing wrong with that of course, but it sure ain’t nothing new! ***
Review by Pete Feenstra
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