Sometimes, after you have been bombarded with prefix riddled country, alt-this and post-that or even more meaningless concepts such as roots or Americana, it is nice to just listen to an album that isn’t afraid to just come straight out and use the country moniker. It was good enough for Merle Haggard so it should be good enough for anyone else. Richard Lynch has no problem with standing by just such a term.
And whilst there is a lot to be found on Mending Fences that chimes right from the heart of country, and specifically Nashville, tradition, it is his ability to sound fresh and forward thinking whilst playing to the genres base that is the real strength here. He doesn’t embrace any pop pretensions or indie swerves instead he just does country as you know and love it, and does it damned well. Whether playing the ballad card on the title track, embracing the old time dance hall vibe of Cut and Paste or grooving out with Think and Drive, he explores all moods and styles and always with an eye to musical detail.
The music is wonderfully textured, fiddles float by, steel guitars wash through or soar majestically in the distance, keyboards offer plaintive lines and there is even room for a wonderful upbeat duet with Rhonda Vincent. Anyone who thinks that country music is one dimensional or just re-treading old musical pathways, needs to pick this album up and be reminded that even under the generic label of country music, there is a lot of musical territory to be explored. Mending Fences is the perfect road map to get you started.