North of Nashville
Jay Basiner and Andrew Martelle, the pair that comprise new duo North Of Nashville, hail from Maine, which might seem like a long way from the deep south or Appalachia, but this New England area has been home to many country music stars over the years. This pair were originally members of the band This Way. They morphed into North Of Nashville when their side duo project became more popular than the full-band set-up. Basiner handles lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica and percussion whilst Martelle provides fiddle, mandolin and vocal harmonies. On this inviting debut they are joined by Cartwright Thompson on pedal steel. All songs are penned by the pair and present an eclectic and dynamic style, combining shades of country, bluegrass, honky-tonk and rock into a seamless fusion of feeling and melody.
Opening track, The Lady And The Outlaw, is sung with pleasant fervour by the unassuming Basiner. The interplay between fiddle and steel guitar and the ‘open’ production help to enhance his next-to-you vocal. Isabella is a folk-inspired song with a distinctive timeless feel, steeped in traditional folk and bluegrass. The Best of What’s Around reminded me of classic BR549, Martelle’s mandolin work dominating, though never detracting from Basiner’s sweet sounding, fabulously wry vocal drawl. Fiddle drives The Working Man, with Basiner’s country phrasing and inflection underscoring his live-your-own-life message in the lyrics
The perfect combination of ‘New Country’ with a traditional sound, North of Nashville might be a hard sell to today’s mainstream country, as they carry on a country-rock legacy whose resurfacing is long overdue. The inquisitive should certainly seek them out for a pleasant surprise.