Authenticity is a word that crops up a lot when describing music, bands and producers search for a level of authenticity so the latest release can slip seamlessly into someone’s record collection and instantly sound like a classic album that has always been there, but, if I’m honest, I don’t really see the reason for authenticity. Surely there is nothing wrong with accepting that a band can sound like another band but still have something new to offer?
Americana is a genre that takes great comfort in keeping one foot in the past, it’s what keeps it recognisable and skirting around the styles of country and folk. Six Mile Grove are a five-piece band from Minnesota that have also skirted away from convention, dodging record labels and producers in favour of writing and producing their music their way and the result will appeal to those who like their music a little less glossy and a bit more homespun.
This is the band’s seventh album, so they’ve obviously found a formula that works, it’s not a complicated formula, you get five good musicians, write a bunch of good songs and allow the creative juices to bubble until you’ve got a good record. Simple really, so simple in fact that it makes you wonder why other bands don’t adopt such a straight forward approach.
There is a nice variation within the songs too, songs about love, life, reflection and heartache (again, Americana boxes ticked) ‘Patrol Cars’ is an earworm with a catchy chorus and a well structured arrangement, ‘Shame On Us’ has an air of Pink Floyds ‘In The Flesh’ – at least in the intro – and the album finishes on a high note with ‘Goodbye to The Loneliness’.
The album benefits from having vocal harmonies throughout underpinning the Neil Young/Michael Stipe vocals of singer Brandon Sampson which allows an emotion to come into the storytelling. The band is twenty years old and that bond and understanding of each other comes through, it’s a very assured album which rarely puts a foot wrong.
If Americana is your thing, go and hunt these guys out.