Monday, July 4, 2011

The Dirt Drifters, "Always a Reason"

Songwriters:  Ryan Fleener, Jeff Middleton, Justin Wilson

Country music has always prided itself on being music that feels real.  It's a genre of real songs about real people with real lives.  While the modern mainstream brand often comes across as contrived and phony rather than authentic and believable, the tried-and-true themes of genuine country music have refused to die.  One of the best-known manifestations of country authenticity is the drinking song.  The drinking song may provoke some to hurriedly change the radio station with a cry of "Eew, country music," but to one who can see himself in the same situation as the character in the song, it can instantly connect.

The latest continuation of this long-standing tradition comes from a Nashville bar band known as The Dirt Drifters.  With an image and performance style that oozes swagger and masculinity, it's almost surprising that radio hasn't bitten on them yet.  It was a disappointment when their debut single, the fantastic blue collar anthem/ dance floor scorcher "Something Better," sank quietly.  But it's been pulled in favor of a worthy replacement. 

"Always a Reason" addresses the motivating reasons leading each of its differing characters to the local watering hole.  Johnny gets a job, and goes to the bar with his buddies to celebrate.  Meanwhile, Joe goes out to seek solace in the midst of betrayal by his cheating wife.  Far being a hollow tale of nameless, faceless individuals, "Always a Reasons" supplies color to the scene instead of settling for shades of gray.  That added layer of specificity helps the song tap into something universal, causing listeners to relate to the driving emotions of each character, and maybe even to see themselves in a similar scenario.

Besides a solid set of lyrics, the performance earns high marks as well.  Lead singer Matt Fleener has a voice with all the right rough edges on it.  His delivery here does not disappointment - believable, and strong enough to cut through the thick country-rock instrumentation.

Is as good as the all-time classic country drinking songs?  Debatable.  Will it stand the test of time?  We'll see.  Is it a competent, fresh take on a classic theme, not to mention one great slice of barroom country-rock?  Definitely.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)