The shit-kicking country rock of the Dirt Drifters | Bleader

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The shit-kicking country rock of the Dirt Drifters

Posted By on 11.10.11 at 04:30 PM

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The Dirt Drifters
  • The Dirt Drifters
Nashville is a magnet for musicians hoping to be stars or at least build a career. There's still work available for songwriters, studio musicians, and hired guns for live shows, and I suspect that the five members of the Dirt Drifters, who hail from four different states, ended up in Music City by chasing some of it. Their bio says, "They bring resumes that embrace country, rock, funk and R&B to bear on a gritty, lyrical roadhouse country that offers something substantial to the heart, the mind and the dance floor," so I'm thinking that some or all of these guys have been mercenaries willing to play any style that paid the bills. But in Nashville, obviously, twang is king (or rather it was and still is to some degree).

Anyway, in October the Dirt Drifters dropped their debut album, This Is My Blood (Warner Brothers), and its 11 tracks, all but one of which are original tunes, mark the group out as belonging to one of the main subspecies of contemporary mainstream Nashville—they're a hard-rocking country band with generous doses of amped-up steel guitar courtesy of, who else, some hired guns. There's not a huge distance between this music and the soundtrack from an old beer commercial, but this is certainly better—the playing crackles, and front man Matt Fleener is good enough to not confuse strained, overdone singing with passion. Also no one is wearing a backward baseball cap, at least not in the photos I've seen (see above).

As you can hear from the song posted below, "Always a Reason," the Dirt Drifters sound more than a little like Steve Earle circa the 1990 album Copperhead Road, except without the outsider fury. The cliche-loaded power ballad "There She Goes" can't be salvaged, but plenty of the songs describe working-class woes, a territory where the band sounds more at home: the hero of "Name on My Shirt" tries to avoid becoming a grease monkey like his dad, but eventually embraces that fate because family comes first; "I'll Shut Up" (which cleverly interpolates guest Willie Nelson singing the chorus from "On the Road Again") includes a litany of complaints about middle-class life.

The Dirt Drifters plays at Joe's on Friday night.

Dirt Drifters, "Always a Reason"

Photo: Stephen Boatright

Today's playlist:

F.X. Randomiz, Goflex (A-Musik)
Areski and Brigitte Fontaine, Le Bonheur (Saravah)
Benito Gonzalez, Circles (Furthermore)
Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)
Benny Carter, Additions to Further Definitions (Impulse)

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