“Geronimo” – Shane Smith & the Saints (2015) [english]

Lately I’ve been thinking about the new classics of American music. What records could be true sources of inspiration for the coming generations of musicians and fans. Milestones that must never be forgotten and that must be duly celebrated. Today the real revolution, in my opinion, in American music is driven by artists who have decided to turn their backs on the big labels and the music business of radio and TV and do it themselves. Obviously helped by small independent record companies and producers “with balls”. A revolution that embraces country, rock, folk and blues in a wave that, thanks to this super connected world, has overwhelmed the ears of millions of fans all over the United States and now also on this side of the ocean. This revolution has as putative fathers obviously the references of the past : Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels to make some names, but today the references are updating and new names become in turn inspiration. I don’t want to invest the band of which I’m talking about excessive responsibility, these guys from Austin, Texas are young and will have time to continue their journey, but when you have a record of such musical and poetic beauty, you can not shut up. You can’t just say “what a great record”. No these guys have created their Honky Tonk Heroes (masterpiece of Waylon Jennings, ed), the album from which many can start and be inspired. An original sound, a long work (15 pieces for almost 1 hour of music), but in no minute of this record you will want to stop listening. I don’t exaggerate, I listened and listened to this album so many times, that the knowledge that many fans of rock and country, but even only of American music, do not know them really makes me crazy. There are bands, celebrated by the mainstream, that have never even created a tenth of the beauty of a single piece of this record. Shane Smith and The Saints are now on their third album plus a wonderful live live recording from the desert near the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas. They have matured, improved and live remain one of the most fiery acts of the States (and today after appearing in the TV series Yellowstone even more famous), but when they released in 2015 this Geronimo reached, in my opinion, perfection, The moment the stars aligned, the music flowed like magic. The band, in addition to the leader on vocals and guitar, consisted of Bennett Brown on violin, Chase Satterwhite on bass, Timothy Allen on guitars and Bryan McGrath on drums. Today some members have changed but the quality is the same. Trust me. On top of that, the cover is a dazzling beauty. An auditory and visual masterpiece. The record starts with a piece that immediately wins the ears and the feeling of being in front of a band with a unique talent will not abandon us anymore. The Mountain starts with the only wonderful voice of Shane Smith and an a cappella choir, but then the piece explodes, thanks to the brilliant work of violin Bennett Brown. A country-folk song, but with an energy that comes from blues rock. A mix of influences that brings out from the speakers an original sound and a crazy intensity. The text is a true poem of real life, the coal mines and its tragedies. Beautiful also the ending that resumes the initial chorus: melancholy energy. There is no room to taste the first, which already begins the second, All I See Is You. The violin that intertwines the guitars, the tight rhythmic that doesn’t leave you anymore until you explode in a solo to leave you breathless. All seasoned with a beautiful love poem. And we are only on the second piece.  Oil Town begins with a beautiful and very folk, harmonic sound and acoustic guitar, but it is the voice of Shane that enters you and accompanies you in this Texas story. A piece of Springsteen flavor, of the good period I mean of course. New Orleans is a hymn to the music of Crescent City: the story of a freed slave who wants to go to the city where on Sundays, in Congo Square, the rhythm never dies. A sunny piece full of rhythm, where as usual the violin accompanies the dances. Around the time of the release of this album, the “smartass” classified them as a Mumford & Sons clone. Here is the depth of the sound and the musical vision of this album would have deserved more consideration. The sound and its inspirations may be vaguely similar, but the analogies stop there. The country ballad, full of whiskey and melancholy, could not miss in a Texas Music record and here is Whiskey & Water. Acoustic but full of character. It’s a poem about temptation, a poem that tastes like the old west, of saloons and rides at sunset.  The fight against demons continues in Right Side of the Ground and Smith’s voice excites, intense and evocative, while the violin enters like a knife in the wound. A truly exceptional performance by the singer, a piece apparently musically simple, but of a powerful and hard to forget poetic force. Faced and defeated the demons, you get to the country rock ride of I Can Hear Him Now where the violin paints notes and the rhythm is perfect in driving the piece at two speeds, rock and folk, country and blues.  He locked the devil behind the cellar door, but he can hear it, and we hear a band bordering on perfection. Suzannah is a rock poem wrapped in Texas country, fast exciting and with a story that appears vivid in our eyes, first-rate narrative skill as the great songwriters of the past. Ability that appears in all its glory even in the subsequent Crockett’s Prayer, where the story becomes the protagonist, the story of Texas and this piece of country folk narrated by the wonderful voice of Shane Smith becomes almost a proud anthem of their land, to the heroes who created this state so beautiful and proud. Texas that is always the protagonist, a constant inspiration, a beloved place to return to after all the travels of life, so Lord Bury Me In Texas becomes a declaration of love for a land that is more than a state: it is home. The piece is melancholy at the right point, but never sad. The intertwining of dobro, violin and electric guitar is pure magic. Gorgeous. But it is with the next one that, in my opinion, the band reaches the climax of this wonderful record: Born & Raised is a ballad sung with two voices with the talented Haley Cole. A piece almost perfect, intense and exciting. A declaration of love for a man and a woman, so close to having lived in such similar Texas families, pride and love for their origins, for the customs and the stories they tell. I confess that this piece, while listening to the record, I send it in repetition several times. I can never get enough. And I get excited every time. Even When All is Lost is an intense and exciting ballad and even here the voice of Shane Smith gives an intense and moving performance. A slow piece, but never dull or banal. Runaway Train is yet another folk poem that the violin and the rhythmic drag in a beautiful and sunny country ride. Another love poem but this time it is a love that the author hopes can follow him in the train that will be his journey, his life around the world for music. What a Shame is another exciting piece, the voice tells us about the search for a life that is worth it, something different from the material life and money of success and as usual Shane Smith’s uvula takes the proscenium and together with a pressing rhythmic, give another wonderful piece, embellished with a world-class arrangement. The album ends with the title-track and if you think the best is over, here you are wrong. Geronimo is a beautiful song, intense and never banal. Another arrangement with sparkling beauty, a poem supported by the usual rhythmic beating and the duet voice and violin to take your breath away. A piece with an ancient flavor, a dedication to the great Apache leader who has a double value in the intentions of the band: tribute to a great man, but also a promise that the group, despite the difficulties, will continue to pursue their dream and go on.  The ending with the violin crescendo and the following solo are pure art. Worthy final of a great record. A work that, according to me, is worthy to enter the ranks of the new classics of American popular music. A band that deserves to be together with new greats like Cody Jinks, Whiskey Myers, Steel Woods or Turnpike Troubadours. Without ifs and buts.  Texas, always home to great music, can undoubtedly add to its ideal Hall of Fame even this Geronimo. The band instead after this record, did not let down his guard indeed he baked another wonderful record (which I had reviewed here after having just discovered them: https://www.trexroads.com/hail-mary-shane-smith-the-saints-2019/ ) and, as I told you, also a beautiful live live live live from the Texas desert (https://www.trexroads.com/live-from-the-desert-shane-smith-and-the-saints-2021-english/ ). And trust me, after a record like this, it’s not for everyone not to get lost and continue to be true to themselves and original. Congratulations to these guys from Austin, Texas really deserve it. They used to be one of the best kept secrets in Texas, but now they have to be, in their own right, in every playlist of quality music that respects.

Good listening,

Trex Willer by http://www.ticinonotizie.it

(you can find original italian article at this link: https://www.ticinonotizie.it/shane-smith-the-saints-geronimo-2015-by-trex-roads/ )

Pubblicato da Trex

Sono un blogger e scrittore appassionato di musica indipendente americana. Scrivo gialli polizieschi e ho inventato il personaggio del detective texano Cody Myers.

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