U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A! You can almost see the stars and stripes filter through the sound as vivid images of the United States’ arid south come to mind. “Country music”, says the old bearded man sitting on the porch of his white-painted house in the middle of cornfields, “that’s the beating heart of America”. Of course, he is but a figment of my imagination, yet he is but one of the many variations on American tradition that spring to mind so effortlessly when confronted to music like that of Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s Glossary. Sitting alongside popular peers The Hold Steady and Lucero, the quintet fit comfortably within the country-tinged rustic rock’n’roll tradition, a national sub-genre of perceptions. Indeed, few other musical branches are so intently focusing on conveying images, a genuine tactile feel, odors and tastes as they recreate the atmospheres of the South.
‘Long Live All Of Us’ being their seventh LP release, it is entirely unsurprising to find a band so evidently comfortable in their songwriting ability, as they consistently deliver their romantic exploration through a lovingly-honed southern sound and tasteful musicianship. Accompanied by a handful of generally optimistic themes, the band’s sound is positively upbeat throughout this new album, as is immediately evident on opener ‘Trouble Won’t Last Always’ (notice the “brighter future” brand of positivism). The bright combination of perky piano melody and sunny guitar, superimposed with Joey Kneiser’s warm crooning make for a cool-as-you-like summery track. One doesn’t need to stretch the imagination to daydream of soulful group-singing around a sole piano, as the sun plunges into the horizon.
In fact, this cheerful (yet often made bittersweet through contrast with the melancholic lyrics) template serves as the basis for a number of hearty highlights. ‘A Shoulder To Cry On’ has a dance-y bar room backbone and joyful horns galore, ‘The Flood’ has a lovely chilled-out guitar finale, and ‘Heart Full Of Wanna’s drums and bouncy bass guide the track, before a surprisingly tasty guitar solo is unleashed. The happy outlook is ever present even when the rock knob is turned up a notch on the ‘When We Were Wicked’, as the band reach the highest point of their cool-mometer, the wind blowing through their hair as they ride an old Ford into the sunset (probably).
It’s not all energetic soul-rock tracks, though. Glossary also have a knack for mellow Wilco-esque tunes full of warmth and charm. ‘Nothing Can Keep Me Away’ is an impassioned piece of rhythm and blues, both soulful and fun, while the sweet ‘Under A Barking Moon’ might prove the perfect soundtrack, with its charming harmonies, for a dreamy Midwest romance, as the couple share a bar room dance and the credits roll. This brand of American affect might be at its most effective on the stripped down ‘Some Eternal Spark’, as the great harmony work between the two Kneisers takes the front stage, coupled only with alternating acoustic-electric transitions.
I recently reviewed Lucero’s latest album (‘Women & Work’) for Already Heard, and it’s easy to see, from these two strong and compelling releases, that there’s still a lot of life left in this genre. This is certainly the case in the States, but if the delivery is this passionate, then who’s to say UK audiences wouldn’t be ready to bite the bait. After all, music is a universal language if there ever was one.
‘Long Live All Of Us’ by Glossary is out on the 15th April on Xtra Mile Records.
Words by James Berclaz-Lewis