Dexeter – Four Thousand Miles to Nashville
I’ve made no secret in the past of the fact that I LOVE the band Dexeter so you can imagine how excited I was when I was asked to do the review for their new album 4000 Miles To Nashville.
I was one of the pledgers for this crowd funded album so have had a digital copy of it for several weeks now and have been playing it a fair bit. In the past I gave glowing praise in a review of their album Brighter Skies and have told anyone who is willing to listen along the way that their follow-up single to that album entitled “Slow It Down” is my favourite UK Country single EVER so in a way the band had a lot to live up to in my mind.
When I downloaded this new album there was definitely a feeling of excitement but also some trepidation on my part that they might not live up to my very high expectations.
So let’s see if my expectations were matched.
This first track of the album immediately grabs you by the shoulders and gives you a good shake! One of the best opening lines of a song I can remember – “I made a bad decision at the bottom of the bottle. Found an indiscretion at the bottom of the bottle. Lost my direction at the bottom of the bottle, and I don’t know where to turn”. This song has all the hallmarks I have come to expect from Dexeter – beautiful vocals from Deanne, cleverly written lyrics, along with atmospheric and interesting instrumentation. I don’t know how these guys do it but they always manage to create an almost primal feeling within me when I listen to their music. This would be a great single and I can imagine crowds at live gigs would have a great time singing along with the wooo oooos that form part of the chorus.
I don’t really know why but every time I hear the intro to this song it makes me break out in a huge grin. I think it is because I can actually imagine the band on stage playing this song and having fun. I can visualise Paul Mathews happily playing his double bass at the back of the stage as, for me, it is the instrument that stands out on this track. Not in an overpowering way but at just the right level. Paul’s clever playing of this majestic instrument certainly seems to give this song its somewhat happy, almost quirky feel. There are accordions, pedal steel and some very pleasurable guitar work with loads of country twang going on too but it is the double bass that holds the whole thing together. Of course it almost goes without saying that the vocals from Deanne are amazing.
“Meet Me There”
This is one of the tracks that has been chosen to be a side of the band’s Double A Sided single being released in this coming week. It starts off with some beautiful pedal steel which is always a great hook for me. The plaintive refrain of pedal steel can be heard throughout giving this track a wonderful country feel. The drums are particularly good on this track too keeping the song moving along nicely but not overpowering the awesome voice of Deanne or any of the other instruments for that matter. This is a great choice as a single and I know that it will be a real crowd pleaser at live gigs because again, cleverly, this is a song that we all think we can sing along to with the wonderful woo, ooo, ooos of the chorus. This will probably be the song that the audience will sing back to the band to get them to come out for an encore!!
This is one of those songs that took me quite a few listens to truly appreciate. I am no musician so I don’t have a clue what key this is being played in but what I do know is that it is a difficult song to sing along to without sounding absolutely awful (my husband says I always sound awful) so kudos to Deanne for pulling that off. The more I hear it though the more I like it but I still cannot sing it without resembling someone who is in a fair bit of pain ☺
A beautiful, gentle introduction leads us into this track. This song is a perfect example of how brilliant Dexeter are in their execution of a song. Deanne’s voice is sublime. The backing vocals are pitched to perfection. The instruments used blend perfectly with the vocals and produce just the right atmosphere. The musicians’ skills are on full display. The lyrics tell a story and take us on a wonderful and interesting journey. It is obvious to me that this track has been produced with much love and care. This could end up being my favourite on the album but there are a few other contenders.
“4000 Miles (to Nashville)”
The title track from the album 4000 Miles To Nashville sounds almost biographical. Lyrically is sounds as though they may have used snapshots from their own story. It is a catchy, mid-tempo number which uses pedal steel very much to the song’s advantage. It is a song that chronicles the true grit required to get anywhere in this world but, more specifically, of following your dreams and trying to make it big in the country scene and of course getting to Nashville which is the very pinnacle of country music. I really like this song and I think a lot of people will relate to the sentiment on offer in this song. I have no doubt in my mind that Dexeter will be playing their music to a Nashville crowd in their very near future. My fingers are crossed for them in their endeavour.
“Slow It Down”
I have posted so many times on Twitter and Facebook about how much I love this song that when I sit down to listen and write about the track, I am surprised to discover that I have never actually reviewed it! This is one of my favourite songs from any country artist or band, from any continent. This is the song that introduced me to Dexeter and what a song to start off with. It is a song that takes me into a state of wonderment at its beauty. The vocals from Deanne are so tender yet so powerful that they can easily move me to tears. Lyrically it pulls on my heart-strings. Instrumentally, the band take me on a journey that inevitably leads me in my imagination to a saloon bar in the Wild West where Deanne is singing her heart out to some handsome cowboy. The twang of the guitars, the wonderful picking of the double bass, the drum-beat, the sympathetic backing vocals from the guys in the band all add to the mood of this song. This is a very special song indeed. I remember the delight that I experienced when Deanne and Gareth kindly dedicated this song to me when they performed it at the Big Entrance Stage, C2C 2015. Unforgettable.
“Older (Wouldn’t Change a Thing)”
I love this song so much as I can totally relate to the lyrics. I am indeed getting on a bit and hearing this young band sing about it not being so bad being older and being happy in your own skin is a real comfort. One of the things that I love about the country music scene is that it does not seem to be ageist in any way. In fact the new, up and coming bands very much reference older acts and always show great respect for what has gone before. I think this song encompasses that ethic beautifully. This is the song Dexeter finished their set with at C2C2015 and the crowd joined in and continued singing even once the band had finished playing. They had to start up again and join in with the crowd. They were delighted that the audience did not want their set to end. It is a very strong track and has indeed been chosen as the other A side for their new single albeit an alternative version. I am lucky enough to have been given a copy of the single version and I review it below.
“Older (Single Version)”
I also love this version of Older although it is indeed quite different from the original. The piano is played so beautifully and accompanies Deanne’s vocals exquisitely. She sings this version with such passion and great tenderness. She has me captured in a constant state of amazement with her vocal dexterity. There are almost choir-like backing vocals on this version which only add to the song’s splendour. There’s some gentle steel guitar in the background as well as wonderful sawing fiddles. The song starts off with Deanne singing “Looking back at a faded photograph did we ever look that young?” The lyrics continue in that vein with Deanne proclaiming that “I wouldn’t change a thing coz I love the skin I’m in”. These give you an idea of the positive message this song delivers. I think this is the stronger track of the double A Side and I hope this song reaches out and grabs people the way Slow It Down did before it. I believe it will.
“House of Cards”
On the day the digital version of this album came out I (along with everyone else) was asked on social media both by the band and their Manager Annette Gibbons what my favourite track was so far. I had to take Slow It Down out of the running as everyone already knows it’s my favourite. On that day I said this track was my favourite and I think that still stands as of today. Like Slow It Down, it reaches into my heart and gives it an almighty squeeze. I hope Paul Mathews, the bass player, does not mind me saying that he told me he was in tears the first time he heard this track played. Again it is the thoughtful lyrics, the wonderful amalgamation of instruments used to portray the desired feeling of pathos and Deanne’s unique voice that make this song a thing of great beauty. I am in total awe of its magnificence.
So were my expectations met? You are darn tooting they were! And exceeded. I would not be at all surprised if this album turns out to be the vehicle that makes people sit up and listen and takes Dexeter to even dizzier heights in their career. They are holding their album launch at The Barfly in London on 3rd July. I truly wish I could attend their launch as I would love to be part of the audience who are going to witness the brilliance of this new offering. The album “Four Thousand Miles To Nashville”. The album is available to pre-order from iTunes and will be released 3rd July 2015.