Review: Mark Utley – Four Chords and a Lie

a0832365877_10Unlike the glut of holiday compilations, overpriced box sets and repackaged deluxe editions, Four Chords and a Lie, the first solo album from Mark Utley (Magnolia Mountain), received a late-year push from This Is American Music. This follows Utley’s recent acclaim via two nominations for his hometown Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. The first for Best Folk/Americana album for Magnolia Mountain’s Beloved, the second for his contribution as singer/songwriter on the Music for the Mountains 2 compilation.

I been thinkin’ and drinkin’ and losin’ my mind
And drownin’ my sorrow in whiskey and wine
For a damned fool on a barstool, the hours crawl by
‘Cause you left me with nothin’ but time

Released in July, Four Chords and a Lie is simple and familiar, the ten originals split between Magnolia Mountain splinter group Bulletville and Utley performing solo don’t provide much differentiation; this is for the best as the album is a cohesive collection of Telecaster twang, pedal steel and honky tonk piano which highlight Utley’s understated bar stool poetry of love (“Blackbird on a Wire”), lust (“Little Black Dress”) and libations (“Not All Right Together”).

Let’s be not all right together
Darlin’, one night at a time

One long slow dance, Four Chords and a Lie is as country as country once was, bypassing the focus group-tested formula spoon fed to today’s commercial masses and served straight up. These songs are meant to be heard amidst both neon bar room glow and a barren moonlit road. Four Chords and a Lie further justifies the recent accolades bestowed upon Utley for his consistency throughout 2013, proving authenticity can still be rewarded.

Stream Four Chords and a Lie below and purchase through This Is American Music.

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