Just pick a topic: work, your truck, drinking, a lady who’s done you wrong.
Give your song an identifiable (namely southern) locale: at the end of town, near the end of the line, a gravel road, a bar, train tracks.
Solidify your intent by referencing a bygone music legend: Hank, Waylon, Lefty.
Mix well with acoustic guitar, banjo and pedal steel; add a pinch of harmonica for extra seasoning.
Off you go to Music Row.
The difference between tropes and clichés are how they are used. All of the above are used time and again on Dust in Wire, the new album from Kill County. Released this week, one could easily assume the band is trucking (no pun intended) in clichés based on the album cover and song titles alone (see: “Shitty Truck”).
I think I’ll drive my shitty truck out to the end of time, and dig a deep hole for everything I call mine.
Drive out past the point where the prairie meets the sand. ‘Cause things round here are getting bad when all the good times are already had.
But on first listen, it’s clear this is no Nashville affair.
The gravel spur off the 83 line, the one that leads out to Brownlee
It’s straight and flat, and there’s some old cat tracks
You’re in Cherry County now son
The south and her grandeur ain’t never been my land, no sir
Kill County hail from Nebraska, home to “Brownlee.” This is Midwest farm country.
I see these old farms scattered out in the light, and I wonder how the folks here can survive
Cause there’s too much not to stay, there’s too little to run away, but your dreams have seen their better days
It’s that blood and the desire, its the dust wrapped in wire, it’s the shadows of your fears in the fire
Dancing ‘round your madness, ‘til you can’t go on
fade out with the moon, come dawn
From the album’s opener, “1805 AM,” to its closing track, “Black Moon,” Kill County share tales of pain, people and place. Their characters are working folk, from real places, with real problems. There are two ways out: drink or death. Neither is cast aside here; in fact, both are celebrated. Not for show but because this is how real people cope.
Here’s to the hard times
The long winter nights, another year of getting by
Through the hard times
Here’s to the hard times
This is honest-to-goodness, heartfelt front porch folk, backwoods blues and country calm. There’s simply no other way to tell such earnest stories.
Grab a drink, kick back and stream Dust in Wire below.
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