I Know Your Troubles Been Long
Although it’s hardly fashionable to admit these days, alt.country is my music of choice at the moment. A decently executed violin solo or some muted pedal steel will set my heart all a-flutter for days. With this musical state of being I went into I Know Your Troubles Been Long and was greeted with an entirely mixed bag. At their best, Mayday manage to cross the dark country sounds of Knife in the Water and The Willard Grant Conspiracy with the ’70s outlaw country of Gram Parsons. “Lone Star” and “Lost Serenade” play out on dusky and distant lo-fi chords, aided by a lazy bleating trumpet. “Running Away” burns with the same beautiful intensity as the best Son Volt songs. The standout tracks are the entirely too short “Little Tremors” and the instrumental “Lesson Two For Children: Making Biscuits.” With only acoustic guitar, banjo and violin, they evoke the best of Gram Parsons’ solo material, with a little bit of Freakwater thrown in for modernity’s sake.
Unfortunately, as good as the songs mentioned above are, there are songs on here that are as equally bad. Bandleader Ted Stevens inexplicably feels the need to clutter up many of the remaining songs with an impenetrable layer of grime and distortion. There are good songs buried on tracks like “Virginia” and “Old Blood” but they would have to be stripped of all their post-modern grit to get a glimpse of them. In their current state, these songs are only grating and disruptive. Also, the remaining “Lesson” songs take the studio-scruffing to an insane level on inappropriateness.
In the end, this album just isn’t satisfying. A band like Knife in the Water can write songs about limitless vices, The Bottom and redemption, and have the listener believe they actually jump into a car without headlights, brimming with narcotics and freshly bought bullets on a weekly basis. Mayday, on the other hand, seem like they’ve been around country music all their lives, but didn’t really start living it until they’d bought an old cowboy hat, boots and a Hank Williams record. The aftertaste just isn’t the same and, on the whole, not nearly as good.
Bar/None Records: http://www.bar-none.com/