Music Reviews
Scotland Barr & the Slow Drags

Scotland Barr & the Slow Drags

Legionnaires Disease

Monkey Barr Music

Roots rock rarely achieves the lyrical and musical heights that Scotland Barr & the Slow Drags reach here. Based in Portland, Oregon, Scotland Barr & the Slow Drags is a band that will not remain unsigned and unknown for very long. The first five tracks on this CD are so strong that it makes one wonder why the group hasn’t been picked up yet.

Sometimes resembling the Wallflowers, Scotland Barr & the Slow Drags trek through the usual roots-rock styles – acoustic folk, classic country, Southern rock – but with a sharper ear for catchy melodies and a dry sense of wonder. Barr’s voice is raspy like Bob Dylan’s; however, it has more emotional depth and bar-band grit. “Bruised Tattoo” is the finest example of Barr’s unique take on Americana; too often groups from this genre play it too straight, afraid of cracking a joke or not sounding faithful enough to their icons. Unfortunately, that approach has its limitations, forcing the words to reflect perspectives from decades ago. That is not the case with Barr, who bitches about a $12 an hour job with forked tongue in cheek.

Barr is a troubled, restless soul, his songs closer to the outlaw angst of Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard than the college poetry of Jacob Dylan, giving him a handful of knife edges over the Wallflowers. “I always loved you when you cried,” Barr sings on “When You Cried,” sounding as drunk and pissed-off as The Pogues. But enough of the spoilers. It’s time to see Barr for yourself, before he becomes famous and sober.

Scotland Barr & the Slow Drags:

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