Music Reviews

The Countrypolitans

Face of My Hometown

Sideburn

With a name like The Countrypolitans, you might expect something akin to Billy Sherrill’s string-laden production or Charlie Rich’s fusion of country, jazz, blues and R&B. Well, not quite. Instead the name refers to the fact that this quartet hails from the urban metropolis of Portland, Oregon and plays pop-tinged country music.

Vocalist Elizabeth Ames has a nice voice that recalls not only Patsy Cline and Rosanne Cash but alt-country chanteuses Kelly Hogan and Sally Timms. Peter Burak’s pedal steel colors most of the tracks, and guitarist Justin De Freece and bassist Roger Conley round out the band nicely. Fiddle and high-strung guitar add some roots-y authenticity on “Hurricane.” But there’s a touch of electric sitar too on opening track “I Can’t Stop You.”

As you might expect, there are a lot of standard country weepers here about the end of relationships. But chief songwriters Ames and Conley mix things up by changing the perspective. Sometimes things just fall apart and people grow apart as they do in “Maybe It’s You.” Other times it’s somebody’s fault, as on “After You’re Gone.” “I fell for your smile and your natural charm,” Ames sings. “Leant the devil my soul the day I took you on/Leant the devil my soul but I’m taking it back/I need another night beside you like a heart attack.” Sometimes you miss them when they go, as on “Face of My Hometown,” the record’s title track: “All my children are named after you/All my children, my songs I made them for you.” Of course, that one could be about an ex or a town.

“Los Angeles Turnaround” is almost definitely about a bad experience in the City of Angels: “Yes I was young and stupid/I thought your ocean was enough/I thought your blue sky and your pretty people/Would keep me feeling tough/’Cause you were so damned beautiful/And I was so naïve.”

If Ames’ sad/glad/had rhyme scheme on “Kind Of Funny” is a bit pedestrian, at least the band sounds great behind her. She does display a nice sense of humor on “Hurricane”: “Don’t bother trying to change my mind/Your two cents ain’t worth a dime/I’ve got to find my own way.”

There are also a couple of effective rockers towards the end of the disc including the racy “I Wanna Score.” “I want what boys want/But I want it more,” Ames sings. And the record concludes with the contemplative, heartfelt “Faith.” “Faith is an old man who really can play/the guitar or the Dobro and he means what he plays,” she sings. “He don’t need a hat or a million tattoos/’Cause faith is just something you do.”

“Behind Closed Doors” it ain’t, but The Countrypolitans have their own thing going on, and on Face of My Hometown, it sounds pretty sweet.

The Countrypolitans: http://www.countrypolitans.com


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