Silverlake 66: Ragged Heart

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(Band photo: Jason Quigley).

Once you know Silverlake 66 (Maria Francis and Jeff Overbo) are from the US and play country / folk / Americana as it should be played, you can guess the sound. They’re breaking no new ground but they do it well, simple music, plain beats and straightforward lyrics that’s in no way being superficial. Indeed, predictable as the sound is, you’d be hard-pushed to call it generic or formulaic: it’s just the music sounding as it should.

Blue Earth County opens; it kicks off with a howl of sorts, a statement of rebel intent, though the song soon slows to a loping, steady beat. The lyrics are about a guy from Minnesota living in the big city and dreaming of home: “If I knew it was this hard / I would have stayed in Blue Earth County / With Derrick and the Dominos to satisfy my mind”. He’s finding city hard to take: “Now the news is fake / they’re on the take, and screaming on television.” No specificity is attached to the fake news, so it can be lyin’ Hilary or bigger lyin’ Trump, whatever your persuasion.

Overbo takes the vocals for that one and standout song Ragged Heart is next, Francis doing the honours. Again, the narrator is wishing they were somewhere else: “You never told me life would be easy / You didn’t tell me I would get the blues / My ragged heart can’t wait any longer / If I had the chance, I’d run right back to you.”

Broken (both voices) slows it down, with steel guitar and the narrator again lamenting, “Because I’m broken, just a token / of the man I used to be before I was broken”.
This theme of people not being where they want to be, geographically and emotionally, is a constant throughout the album, right through to closer Such a Mess. This slightly downbeat air is not apparent in the music, only the lyrics.

The Press notes say Francis battled lupus then thyroid cancer, so the feeling of being in the wrong place at the wrong time probably came naturally.

If you fancy a modern, clean, radio-friendly take on classic country music meets folk, with no ostentation or clichés, this is worth your time.


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