Citizens of Nashville, self-released; 2014
Review By Matt Jensen, 3.7 out of 5
Before I even started listening to Citizens Of Nashville by Bob Menzies I was expecting that “Nashville Sound” because of the title. Turns out I was right. Citizens Of Nashville was in fact recorded and mixed in Nashville and also contains some of Nashville's finest studio musicians. The production can certainly be categorized as that “Nashville Sound” but not only because the songs feature pedal steel guitars. It’s the snap of the snare, the rich mid-range and the radio friendly production that is so easy on the ears.
Citizens Of Nashville was recorded and mixed in Nashville but Menzies took his talent to Mississippi first. It was there that he re-worked the songs and got them ready for the studio. If I had to guess I would say the location had a lot to do with how these songs turned out. The songs spew with a swampy, back door Mississippi vibe that mixes folk, rock, blues and country.
The album doesn’t waste any time introducing the whole band into the mix. “My Time Has Come” combines pedal steel, electric guitar, drums and bass into an initial burst of warmth before settling into a slighty stripped back verse for Menzies to sing over. When the second verse comes piano is introduced into the mix to provide some variation. Menzies’ vocals sound honest and confident as he sings, “I got a feeling, my day is done I got a feeling, my time has come.”
“Love And Glory” contains a good amount of traditional Americana that shouldn't sound too unfamiliar to anyone while “Black Cat Hiding” blends a bit more country into the mix. It was on these songs that I was reminded me of Bruce Springsteen. I don't think Menzies sounds like The Boss but something about his inflection and delivery seemed reminiscent.
One of the highlights “You Can’t Go Home Again” builds with energy as it progresses. It starts off with a steady kick and light guitar playing. You know it's going to explode within a given time. It does reach a couple of enjoyable climaxes but never goes overboard.
”No More Cards In The Game” is a solemn song in which Menzies sings the familiar story about a lone figure who has been through thick and thin. Perhaps a story we have heard one too many times but nonetheless the song was enjoyable. Menzies ends with an upbeat closer entitled “Follow Me Down.” I thought the hopeful song was a good way to close the album.
Citizens Of Nashville is not only enjoyable because of the music but because after listening you can get an idea of the time and effort that was put into it. The arrangements, the production and everything else aren’t something you whip up without some serious man-hours. Hats off to Menzies and the dedication he put into creating Citizens Of Nashville.
By Jaime Vernon
And here on my desk this week sits album No.3 from Bob Menzies entitled "Citizens of Nashville. A man who has won me over not just by being a great songwriter but by being a prolific one. By improving his muse every time he steps foot in the studio he has turned baby steps into giant leaps. He doesn’t stop traveling – physically and musically. And it allows him more fodder for his restless mind. For his latest outing he has gone directly to Nashville to punch up his latent country leanings and folk storytelling. On board are Eddie Bayers (drums), Kelly Back (electric guitar), Howard ‘The Duckman’ Duck (keyboards), Scotty Sanders (pedal steel, dobro), Kevin ‘Swine’ Grantt (bass) and Mike Rojas (keyboards, organ). Add Bob’s own acoustic guitar playing prowess and vibrant vocals and you’ve got a hot combination before the first notes are even played.
A great album of songs it is, too, courtesy of Nashville producer/musician Larry Beaird (Dolly Parton, Billy Dean, Mark O’Connor). Bob makes no bones about his nervousness at being amongst legends in the confessional track “I’ve Never Been To Nashville”’, but by the ease in which the songs like “You can’t Go Home Again” and “Follow Me Down” come across you’d never know. That would come from the pre-production they did in Clarksdale, Mississippi at the Hopson Plantation where Bob’s songs – all pre-written – would take on a new life through the prism of Nashville’s magic.
What is most noticeable is that the record is filled with more uptem tracks compared to those on his last two efforts – ‘Breaking Time‘ and ‘One More Highway‘. The energy of the quick 6 day sessions in Nashville might account for this. “My Time Has Come”, “Highway of My Dreams” and “The Only Thing I Fear” are stand-outs. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Menzies album without a few rogues and scoundrels making an appearance. “Black Cat Hiding”, for instance, paints a picture of women that men should be wary of. But ladies, you should also keep an eye on men found in songs like “Time For You To Go”. Heartache, hope and living (“Love And Glory”) will carry through this latest Bob Menzies mental travelogue. Here’s hoping Bob’s got another album in him ready to go early in 2015. http://www.bobmenziesmusic.com
Listening to Bob Menzies latest cd reminds me of the seventies when country-rock singles dominated the juke-boxes. Putting a dime in a juke-box was a real treat then.
Bob, son of a Dutch mother and a Canadian serviceman has travelled the world which reflects in his music. Country is the base but there are also traces of roots, folk and blues.
The're no fillers on this cd, most songs are uptempo. Standout tracks are : "My time has come", "Highway of my dreams" and "You can't go home again".
Bob has surrounded him with some of the best Nashville session musicians, among whom Eddie Bayers is problably the best known and very experienced drummer.
This cd is one of the best of the year, very recommended
Score : 9/10
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