I must confess I don't know exactly where country ends and alt country begins. I know there must be a difference otherwise that sub-genre wouldn't exist, and I certainly know my Hank Williams from my Ryan Adams, but precisely where that line is drawn is beyond me. And the reason I've been giving this some thought is that Blake Rainey's Dangerous Summer definitely has a foot in both camps. There are tracks here that you could imagine hearing if you walked into a club and saw a well built man in an over-sized white cowboy hat singing about how hard his life has become since his wife ran off with the dog. And yet, on the other hand, you could also imagine hearing a number of tracks from this album on one of those free Americana CDs that UK music magazine Uncut gives away with increasing regularity.
Neither of these genres are particularly my cup of tea, but the songs here
are well sung, albeit in a vaguely croaky style, and there are some well thought
out harmonies. It's also got a nice sparse production and a number of songs
benefit from some nice cello playing from Terri Onstad. But although tracks
such as Matter Of Heart, which opens proceedings in a nice under-stated
manner, and The Dangerous Winter with its "dancing for you" hook appealed
early on, elsewhere on initial listens I was left wondering just how much of
the material here was remarkable enough to appeal to the unconverted. I must
confess, however, that there are a number of tracks such as The Innocent
Ghost Of Marie Baby, There's The Rain, and the closing title track
that definitely grew on me.
Best of all from the outset though is the heartfelt, roots-like All My Fears with its lovely melody and tight harmonies. Personally, I could do without the likes of I Sang Holy and 99 Beers, but if this sort of music is your bag, then I reckon you may well find much to enjoy here.