From the first bent string on “Pinkville,” you’ll find yourself drawn into Rod Melancon’s world. Pinkville is a not-so-alternate universe of desperation, perspiration, and a little bit of perseverance. Melancon’s raspy vocals suit his cover of Tom Waits’ “Goin’ Out West” — an homage to one of his heroes.
We see traces of that influence throughout Pinkville, Melancon’s fourth album. The songs on Pinkville are merely semi-autobiographical and, most importantly, steeped in the Deep South. Melancon’s left behind the gothic on this one, though — think Waits but high-octane and with a heavy helping of rockabilly to add heat to the fire. Melancon draws from spoken word, roadhouse rock, soul, and waltzes to explore the ins and outs of human consciousness in both the best and worst of times.
“Pinkville” is one of Melancon’s few autobiographical songs, reminiscing about a Vietnam vet with PTSD in Melancon’s rural Alabama hometown. “Rehabilitation” gets into the stickier parts of sobering up, complete with a sweaty guitar line. On the other hand, Melancon dives into his “Manic Depression” (not the Jimi Hendrix song) with a knowing country swagger that makes an otherwise difficult subject feel approachable. (Also it’s likely the only country song with the word “Seroquel” in the lyrics.) On the other hand, Melancon nods to Tom Petty’s rise to stardom in “The Heartbreakers” and Freddy Fender in “Corpus Christi Carwash.”
Pinkville careens through several decades of rock and country, with Melancon as our surefooted Virgil. Bursting at the seams with energy, vicious in spleen, and touching in tenderness, Pinkville finds Melancon in command of his craft and poised for further greatness.