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Country music has hopped fully on the crossover bandwagon these days, making it difficult to find some good ol' country that is reminiscent of the days of George Jone's heyday or even back as far as the sounds of Hank Williams Sr. While good, classic sounding country is hard to come by in new releases these days, Michael Van & The Movers have managed to bottle that sound with their new album, "A Little More Country.
Buy the album at Bandcamp
If you take a moment to listen to their album on Bandcamp (or buy it) you'll find that they have a nice twangy country style. For those of you in Grand Rapids reading this, I would compare them to the sounds of The Bootstrap Boys.
Michael Van & The Movers hail from the San Francisco Bay area in California, but they definitely sound like they came straight out of Memphis. The band consists of Michael Van on Acoustic Guitar and Vocals, Pete Ahonen on Electric Guitar, Banjo and Vocals, Alan Bond on Mandolin, Fiddle and Vocals, Larry Lawson on bass, Bob Skye on Drums and Harmonica, Special Guest Mark Berhard Stevenson on Steel guitar, Noah Duvernell and Paul Ohnemus on Drums. It's quite the big collaboration of talented musicians.
The title track, "A Little More Country," is a catchy tune that explains itself quite well if you listen.
Watch the video for "A Little More Country"
"Skedaddle Mountain Lullaby" made me think of the movie 'Oh Brother, Where Art Though?', its sound being reminiscent of the country tunes that filled the soundtrack of that movie.
"Gettin Drunk On A Monday" is by far my favorite song on this album. It's a return to the old country sounds and made me think of some classic George Strait stylings. It's a smooth song that you are sure to enjoy if you're a fan of classic country.
"Love Me Till Thursday" brought the country sound to a halt and slowed down the toe-tapping as well. This song didn't really feel country to me at all and didn't seem to fit the feel of the album either. Don't let that scare you away from listening, though (it's only one song out of 13).
"Juanita" brings back that country sound. And its follower has a good deal of twang, "Gimme Back My Guitar." This is my second favorite song on the album, although the harmony vocals on it could use a little work. I simply enjoy the twangy beat the songs has.
"Pretty Penny" adds a little more of a rock sound to the album, but not enough to really call it a cross-over. It still sounds more country than anything. The guitar intro to "Center Of The Universe" will make you feel like you've gone a few decades back in time.
"Don't Mind If I Do" made me think of Glen Campbell. "That Train" filled out the need for a country album to have a train song on it. "River Road" is an excellent tune for relaxing to, with a wonderfully mellow beat.
"Sounds Like Rain" has some of the best vocal stylings of the entire album. I love how the raspiness in the singer's voice stands out in this one. The album is finished off with "Look At Miss Ohio," and it definitely ends the album on a good note.
Each song has a feel all its own, most of them reminiscent of the sounds of country music from the 50s through the 70s. If you're a fan of new country or old country tunes, you should take a moment to listen to this album. You'll be pleasantly surprised, as I was.
There are some moments where this album could be a little cleaner, or the vocals could use a little work, but in the grand scheme of things, it's a well-done collection of country tunes that will have you wishing for the simpler times again.