There once was a time when country music was straight up hard. A time when bluegrass was simply country music played by Bill Monroe. Other musicians like Ira Louvin thought nothing of overlaying the electrified honkytonk of he and his brother’s band with his mandolin. That time has more or less passed on by, just no one seems to have told Caleb Klauder. If, by chance, you see him, don’t you dare spoil it for the rest of us.
On his new album “Western Country” (an album so hot off the press I couldn’t even find the cover art to steal for this blog) Klauder brings us along with an easy country shuffle, comfortably rough hewn vocals and a delightfully murky production. Elsewhere in this blog I’ve talked about the importance of how something is about rather than what it’s about, and “Western Country” makes the case. There’s a cover of “Satisfied Mind” that doesn’t improve upon the original (and really no one’s version has), there’s lines about wearing out shoes and having the blues, the traditional “I don’t know, but I’ve been told” kick off, and songs of heartbreak and rivers. All that is what this album is about. The how is the story though. The pieces come together to make raw and wonderful bar top thumping honkytonk. It’s the Ernest Tubb Record Shop Jamboree, or a late night at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. Closer to home in one of our Seattle joints, its the music that fills my heart which makes me want to fill my arms with a pretty girl and two-step away some shit-ass week where nothing went right and everything went wrong. This is music to forget all those cares and stresses to because it simply acknowledges them to be true. It doesn’t dwell, or wallow, but instead gives us the old lines and melodies in a place where hopefully other people are to drink with, dance with, shoot the shit with and sometimes that’s all that’s needed.