David Lykins is playing what he calls "subversive country" music, which at first sounds a bit curious until you understand he was raised on Hank Williams, Ernest Tubbs, and Kris Kristofferson. Ahhhh, so he's not a bomb-throwing sonic anarchist from the North 40 dedicated to ridiculing the entire genre? Right. What he digs is a down-to-the-marrow approach and the initial cut, "Houston", is a track Warren Zevon would've been proud to have penned, straight in the tradition of Lawyers, Guns & Money.
Now, I hasten to say that country, even subversive country, is rarely my cup of tea, but I recognize when a guy's doing it right, and Lykins is not all that far from Steve Earle, Dwight Yoakum, and Garth Brooks…but just far enough, as I'd much rather listen to Lykins than those cats: he speaks to me when he writes. Especially, I know all too well what the composer's talking about in Good News, and the lightly Irish undertone all the more buttresses an element of workaday cares and troubles. Lykin also hired a great back-up team: members from New Grass Revival, Garth's band, the Dixie Chicks alongside several other talented individuals.
The folk element is what, for me, makes the disc. Let Me Carry This marries it to the country aspect perfectly, opening and proceeding in a Bruce Cockburn-ish vein soon subordinated to Lykins' country twang and grit but never surrendering, always matrixing the complementary sound, thus creating a highly attractive cut, the best of the CD, irresistable for its smooth rhythms and John Gardner's highly musical drumming. The singer's elevated passion near the end induces gooseflesh.
As I say, true country isn't my gig, but Lykins clearly loves the mode, and he's also a bit like Harry Chapin and ilk. The guy's done what Michael Stanley and others should've but didn't, so, yeah, he has indeed subverted country while honoring it. Mission accomplished.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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