You don’t see a lot Country artists on the In Deep Music Archive site even though I have every record by Lucinda Williams, have an affection for the Dixie Chicks and Taylor and the archive carries a fine collection of Wanda Jackson records. I also still have my original single of Ode To Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry that I bought in 1967.
The Americana obsession, touches me occasionally but it’s a genre that seems to captivate journalists and music lovers easier than it should. I suppose that for me it’s just not weird enough or as good as music with traditional roots has to be and in an unattractive manner it self-consciously carries the heavy burden of its own worth everywhere it goes.
Nikki Lane on the other hand has all the tradition needed and although it’s more Country than Americana, it also shares a R’n’R legacy. Whilst staying firmly out of the Country and Rock mainstream she remains far enough away from Americana’s po-faced elite to be able to open her latest album, Highway Queen, with the immortal line “700,000 rednecks that’s what it takes to get to the top”.
It was her second album, All Or Nothin’ (2015), where I discovered her. Produced by Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach in his own studio (allegedly for free), Lane’s Southern accent dominates the songs with a drawl of unfinished words that makes me long to have her read Tennessee Williams to me.
Gone, Gone, Gone comes from her debut album, Walk Of Shame (2011), and seeing her standing in a forest holding a microphone shows me the timeless appeal of this music when it’s done with an unmistakable authenticity, instead of either a blatant commercial bent or self-important airs. The kid and the pizza confirm her grounding.
So get over your aversion to pedal steel and learn to love those words of domestic, Southern marital conflict and discover a true relevant, real hip, down to earth honky tonk angel.