It seems that, as years pass by and my age crawls higher, my musical tastes gradually change. The difference is amazing in just the past 5 years, but I guess that’s what the mid 20s do to a guy. Though I enjoy the occasional hardcore show, my ears yearn for a softer, gentler sound. So without further ado, here’s Opus’ first country music review.
Shilo and I were driving to the Faint show a few days ago and we jokingly told each other that we were getting old (25 years) as we listened to country music while the miles passed by. The soft, rolling hills of I-80 and the Platte River saw us listen to everything from Johnny Cash to Marty Robbins to Lasso. A variety in its own, what with the harsh vocals of Cash, the cowboy ballads of Robbins, and the gentle, humble sound of Lasso. I’m not comparing Lasso to the greats of country yet, but they have the potential of putting out an album worthy of comparison.
I saw Lasso at Cornerstone 2001, and it was the first country band I’d ever seen at the festival. With a singer decked out with an acoustic guitar, worn John Deere hat, and farmer’s shirt, my curiosity was piqued. He even had a farmer’s tan (you get the picture). Though the band dressed the part, it was the Merle Haggard-like voice (complete with Tulsa accent) over old school western songs that captured me the most. The sound was definitely not one for the typical fest-goer, but those that stayed received a true taste of the midwest.
Sweet Long Goodbyes is filled with heartfelt country songs, and the occasional steel guitar gets me good in the left side of the chest. The songs are in their purest form with modest lyrics, western guitar riffs, and a simple drumbeat. There’s a slight twang in his voice as he sings about love, traveling, and hope.
The title track begins with an old time radio playing lightly in the background. The song kicks in with a backbeat and a steel guitar as the bass rings low and provides the fullness characteristic of each song. There are so many layers of instruments, including the steel and piano, that each song feels complete. “In A Station Off the Road” finds a soft piano playing over an almost melancholy voice with the pedal steel in the background. The song is a perfect country ballad that sums up life for many. “Room To Move” and “Hope Is My Invention” are also ballads that can cause a grown man to stare sadly into his drink, accompanied by a slowly-strummed acoustic.
Not all of the songs are cause to swill, though. “Lay Your Weapon Down” is an old-fashioned southwestern cowboy song with swiftly strummed rugged guitar chords and haunting notes from an accompanying six string. I dare to compare it to an old ‘50s Cash song with smoother vocals. “All Those That Wage” and “Ground Beneath Your Fall” are the only other songs that aren’t quite so subtle. Sweet Long Goodbyes is a great album for the classic country lover that needs no reason but music to feel content.
Written by Nolan Shigley.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.