To The Country
The BluerunnersRounder CD 6073
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Music fans who are enamored of, yet slightly bored with, alternative-country should investigate The Bluerunners' To The Country. A band that wants to rock-n-roll while retaining elements of traditional music is the very definition of alternative-country; but Southern Louisiana's The Bluerunners fling a substantial dash of cayenne into the musical gumbo. Witness Steve LeBlanc's Au Bout Du Chemin, a tune from so far back in the bayou, you can almost hear the crawfish heads being sucked. This gem is sandwiched between two standout tracks by Mark Meaux. The Longest Day is constructed from acoustic guitar and mandolin, with Willie Golden's lap steel and LeBlanc's fiddle winding in and out of lyrics like "In the city built under the sea/you come to know how low you'll go." Landslide is a bluesy rocker that was born to be an encore. Most of the tracks here are acoustic-based, leaving plenty of room for Meaux's mandolin, Leblanc's accordion and fiddle, and the saxes of Adrian Huval and Willie Golden. This combination delivers a potent, unique sound.
Although Mark Meaux wrote most of their 1991 debut, Steve LeBlanc has developed into a solid songwriter, and this luxury gives the band the musical bandwidth that Uncle Tupelo enjoyed prior to their dissolution into Son Volt and Wilco. LeBlanc's "Curb Service" reminds us of the past ("it's faded from the rear view/we'll never see those sights again") while telling us to look ahead ("let it go and wish it well"). Then Meaux's swamp-pop Sound of Love drops us solidly into the present: "One more time to get it right/a thousand times to die tonight."
The tunes on To the Country range from the traditional Cajun tune (Ossun 2 Step), to jittery party tunes (Stringbean), to darker, subtly textured tracks (Sound of Love and The Longest Day). With this release, The Bluerunners have matured from a generic "loud-n-fast rock band with accordion" to a group with a distinct, vivid style, rooted in the past, and pointed toward the future.
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Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz