The greatest crime ever perpetrated by Nashville, was not Florida Georgia Line, Colt Ford or the disturbing Miley Cyrus…though one could certainly argue this…but the lack of a major record deal in 2012 for Texas songwriter, recording artist and performer George Ducas. Despite the arrogant indifference of Nashvegas, his new album, 4340 (Loud Ranch), stands defiant, independent and ready to succeed.
While the muddy waters diluting Music Row refuse to recede, the alt. country and Americana artists labor and toil in the face of a crowded market of ambiguous loyalties.
But their efforts do not go unnoticed. Ducas recently finished his 12-song assignment and his grade was a resounding B…for brilliance.
4340, which is scheduled for release on Oct. 29, is sequenced like one of Ducas’ hook-laden and powerful performances. The lead song, "CowTown," does genuflect a bit to the Nashville music machine, but fires a mighty bullet that strikes its intended target. It affirms Ducas’ ability as a very adaptable songwriter and reminds one that he is a Nashville songwriter. Fortunately, he has chosen not to be a hack or a slave to that machine.
In the very radio-friendly tracks, "Come Down," "This One's Gonna Hurt," " All Kinds of Crazy" and "I Need to Love You," he leaves Music City behind and forges his own path through more alt-country musicscapes. This is where the hooks and pop-melodies begin their journey.
Ducas is no stranger to this type of song structure. He is the writer behind many an infectious Nashville hit. Listen to Sara Evans’ number one hit, the Ducas-composed "Real Fine Place to Start," and it’s apparent that he has perfected the country-power pop hybrid.
But other styles abound on 4340. The musical tour continues into New Mexico territory and stops at another radio-agreeable song, "White Lines and Road Signs." A Henleyesque document that laments the longing of a past love juxtaposed against a long desert drive. "Road Signs" is perhaps the centerpiece of this effort.
Ducas, who released two acclaimed albums for Capitol-Nashville in the 90s, thought of himself as a serious songwriter then and was very reticent. He did not want to write “fun.” But as the years have turned into other opportunities, and confidence and maturity have been invited into the studio, he is now comfortable in his songwriting skin and this is constantly affirmed throughout 4340.
On the album, Ducas explores the themes of love and relationships, changes in culture, technology, trapped personalities, and the obligatory good times. But the connections and disconnections between people and self are what layer the record and seem to be what he wants the listener to take away from the 4340 audio experience.
“The album is relationship driven; what can be bigger than that?” Ducas rhetorically asks.
On the fitting epilogue and final offering of the disc, "Gimme Back My Honky Tonk", there is the nod to honky tonk revelry and a yearning for lost days that have been usurped by modernity and Snoop Dogg…or is it Snoop Lion now…A call to the past to battle modern times.
It wouldn’t be fair to give Ducas complete credit for this autonomous and non-aligned masterpiece. Some friends help him move the furniture. His mentor Radney Foster, Jim Beavers (writer of Toby Keith and Dierks Bentley tunes), Kiefer Thompson, Jon Henderson, and Jason Matthews, among others, pitched in to produce these 12 tracks of sing along candied nuggets.
What they created was something that Nashvegas repeatedly falls short on…I’ll let you listen to 4340 and figure out what that is.
What I will tell you though is Ducas has given you an impressive and contagious CD to put in between the ditches by.
-Chris Adams, The Fort Stockton Pioneer