Courtesy of New Country Rehab The members of New Country Rehab are musicians'…
- Posted on Feb 3rd 2011 2:00PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Led by violinist John Showman (who also lends his fiddle to Toronto bluegrass institutions the Foggy Hogtown Boys and the Creaking Tree String Quartet), NCR also features Run With the Kittens guitarist James Robertson, percussionist Roman Tome, and Flashlight Radio bassist Ben Whiteley (who's also much in demand by folk-tinged artists like Amy Millan and Basia Bulat).
Their name tells their story: NCR play country music, full stop. Theirs is kind of straightforward, old-school sound that would be at home in a shadowy speakeasy -- or the Grand Ol' Opry (the way it used to be, anyhow). A mix of old-timey originals and classic rootsy covers (including three Hank Williams tunes, which sound right at home delivered in Showman's Williams-esque drawl), 'New Country Rehab' corrals the strengths of all four of its talented musicians to promising effect.
Anyone who likes their music unpretentious and served up straight like a shot of fine bourbon will certainly appreciate the rollicking charms of New Country Rehab --particularly of note are original tracks like the twangy 'Cameo.' Showman's striking fiddle playing anchors the tune throughout as he saws away in the background. The initial sombre tone shifts as the rhythm section picks up the tempo and the others kick in some solid harmonies.
The genre's emphasis on narrative through song clearly isn't lost on this crew, as 'Cameo' sketches out a tale with characters and situations as fully realized as any short story. "Somewhere through the night, she's running through the border/With a cameo that's hidden deep inside her pack/Through the mountains to the border, with an army at her back," Showman sings, and that's merely the beginning.
As their name indicates, New Country Rehab offer recovery from the saccharine pop that passes as country music these days. It's clear that in trying to restore an old sound, they've made sure to include a fresh twist.