Jul 09, 2007

The British have a special affinity for classic American country music. From Billy Bragg and Pete Shelley to the Mekons and The The, some of the most faithful interpretations of Johnny, Carl, Patsy and Hank can be found emanating from the shores of the UK. Graham Parker, who possesses Dylan’s cigarette-rough rasp and Elvis Costello’s biting sense of humor, is perfectly suited to the task on Your Country, offering up ten original tracks and one seriously re-written cover of Dave Edmund’s “Crawlin’ from the Wreckage.” Graham, like Costello, Edmunds and, on another level, Richard Thompson, is a songwriter whose career has been distinguished both by intelligent lyrics and equally capable musicianship. And like his fellow countrymen, Graham has an ear for incorporating a variety of musical styles into his own work. Your Country is not, by most definitions, American country per se, nor is it even an extension of the work of Gram Parsons or, more recently, Steve Earle (although the song “Almost Thanksgiving Day” comes awful close). Rather, this is Parker’s music informed by American country, which is, perhaps, even more ambitious than simply covering other artists’ work. Despite being on the Bloodshot label, this is not alt-country by any stretch of the imagination. Longtime Parker fans will instantly recognize his biting commentary and may even have to look closely to find any hint of what most people associate with country music.

 –eric (Bloodshot)