The High Cost of Living Strange – Ben De La Cour (reviewed by T. Bebedor)

The Southern states of America have always been reflected, and promoted, as where the honest, God-fearing folk of America live. The vast farmland for Texan beef, the arid desert land of Nevada and the communities based on industry and hard work.

Of course every story has a dark side; for every farmer there is a greedy developer, Nevada is dominated by Las Vegas and industry changes, often leaving communities isolated when the big companies move on.

Ben De La Cour is a story teller, picking tales of loneliness and desperation and telling them to a backdrop of bluegrass and country, his is a world of hitchhikers trying to escape the small home town, of forgotten relatives that have moved away never to be heard of again and discarded items tossed aside once their time of being useful has gone.

If this album were visual it would be grainy black and white, shifting from weather-worn faces to sun-drained roads with the dust and the dirt being blown by the wind. It’s music to listen to in your rocking chair as the sun dips and the temperature drops and your familiar town takes on a darker, more sinister turn.

But this story teller isn’t battered or down-trodden, his voice is calm and balanced and strangely soothing as it shares it’s tales, the music sits well using fiddle, harmonica and guitar to remind us where these stories are set and drums are used sparingly but effectively.

It’s another example of proving that country music is more than ballads, big hats and parking your truck by the lake, it’s a music for characters, darkness and communities.

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