Dallas band Homespun Remedies has a killer eponymous debut CD……
……that’s a mix of our favorite rootsy styles: Bluegrass, Country, and some straight-ahead, good old-fashioned Americana-Rock. Mostly Country, which arguably replaced Rock as the new Pop some time earlier this century. Those who doubt this should revisit RAISING SAND, or just the mere concept of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss occupying a studio together simultaneously — never mind recording a hit album, achieving major critical acclaim, and netting “Album Of The Year” and “Record Of The Year” Grammy Awards — or Kenny Chesney opening for the Steve Miller Band. (The Eagles’ current tour bill, we may consider more ‘retro.’)
This CD launched last year but hasn’t been reviewed on ND yet. So I’m throwing it out there, because the band is hitting the studio to record its second album…titled, oddly enough (or not) GREAT DEPRESSION. (not as in “THE…” but rather “HAVE A….”) Watch This Space, as we used to say, for more about that. Producer Paul Williams at Dallas’ TomCast Studios is again riding herd on the Spunners, for CD #2, and is a huge part of the band…playing guitar/keyboard on this initial effort in true George Martin style.
What slapped me upside the head about HOMESPUN REMEDIES is the album’s seamless meld of the above-mentioned styles, and —- being familiar with primary songwriter/vocalist Mike Saunders’ roots (from his 90s band River Crossing, also based in Dallas) —- the clarity of its lyrics, multi-instrumentalism, and vocal clout: very Buffalo Springfield/CSNY/The Band in mood and tone, without copycatting these timeless artists one iota. Barry Boyd, Dave Mabry and Wade Cofer collaborate with Saunders, and alone, to the benefit of the band’s mature songwriting ethos.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Homespun Remedies is the band’s instrumental variety, ranging from mandolin to brass to pedal steel to bagpipes. Puts one in mind of the aforementioned artists, as well as standout old-school albums such as The Youngbloods’ ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN or Poco’s eponymous second LP (to this day, standing as the best albums of 1969 and 1970, respectively). Again, this may owe to Saunders’ reverence for the music that birthed the same year he was conceived. (Which also suggests that we’re impacted by music from womb to tomb, but that’s a separate conversation.)
The songs that jump out at the listener include “One Of These Days” (an up-tempo self-promise of things yet to be from a guy to his gal), “Course Ya Have” (an empathetic ear to the listener, and the troubles we all face), “Medicine” (as in, “your Love is like…”), “Bring ‘Em Back” (very AMERICAN BEAUTY-era Dead), “Meanwhile…” (much more of a Dylan/Band paean than one to 10cc, which wouldn’t be all bad either), “Fool’s Paradise” (telltale Maj7 chords reveal Saunders’ sentimentality where The Association is concerned, even though Dallas super-stalwart Chris Holt’s slide guitar work and the surprise horns from Gaika James and Dave Willingham detail a mid-70s Firefall country-rock cool), “Wait For My Phone To Ring” (highly evocative of Poco’s “Honky Tonk Downstairs,” told from the protagonist’s POV) and “Got A Light” (which deserves Country charting, big-time, even while expressing Beatles-like background vocal sensibilities).
Someone should put these guys on the tube. Fast.
Until then, you cannot go wrong checking out this band live if you’re lucky enough (in this case) to be in North Texas, or with this remarkable first CD. It’ll make you a believer in the creativity of the human heart and musical mind.