Songs such as Nashville are proof that it isn’t the raw materials that define a song, it is more about how the artist fits them together. Give a hundred other country, folk, alt-country …whatever, artists the same clean limbed guitar lines, the same subject matter, the same resonance and rootsy approach and they will probably return something palatable but predictable. Michael Askin fashions something far cleverer than that though.
Whilst on the surface it fits somewhere between the rhinestone glare of Nashville’s heartland and the more edgy and underground vibe of its eastern scene, subsequent listens reveal a song as much set in Music City as it is Music City on the therapists chair. And musically it is subtle beast, taking its time to get into its stride and even then playing a modest and restrained hand. Country music can be about pickup trucks and national pride, nothing wrong with that, there is a market and a place for everything but Michael Askin reminds us that country music, like all music born of the mass, can be used in far cleverer ways and Nashville is a clever song indeed. It grafts interesting observation and social commentary on to a track which whilst following the rules does so in a smarter and more emotive fashion, which is a pretty neat trick if you can pull it off. Michael Askin more than pulls it off here.