album review: the breedings – fayette

phuzz phest: some army

I slid the CD version of the Breedings’ Fayette into my car’s CD player a few weeks ago, and like many records in my car, it stayed in the CD player for weeks and weeks, and I listened to it over and over again. Here is a partial list of artists I considered comparing this record to: good Mary Chapin Carpenter; excellent Lucinda Williams; the last Justin Townes Earle album; the Lucero album before the most recent Lucero album; Patsy Cline; George Jones; George Strait.

Ultimately, I decided that none of those comparisons were quite the right comparison, not entirely — which is to say, this album really can’t be put into a single genre, and that’s one of the best things about it, but also probably wouldn’t make my top ten favorite things about Fayette. It’s a Nashville country album that could have been a Memphis soul record, or maybe it’s a Nashville soul record that could have been a Memphis country album. It’s solidly a record made by two people who grew up in the South, and know it and love it, and know its musical traditions and love them. Straight up, straight off, that’s the first strength of Fayette: the musicality of it cannot be defined, or pinned down. There are tracks, like first single “Calm”, that are lush with keyboard lines and Erin Breeding’s voice at its full blues best, and there are tracks, like “Tennessee”, that are pure George Strait ‘T For Texas’ country, all sly sense of humor and Willie Breeding carrying the lead vocals.

“Clays Ferry Bridge” highlights how well Willie and Erin harmonize, and slides sadly along melody lines written with pedal steel; “I’m All Yours” is a mournful pop country ballad that lets Erin’s voice carry a traditional love song into a remarkable place (and the guitar solo is pretty kick ass, too). “Take From Me” glowers and slinks with the blues and bristling anger, and mellows into a gorgeous soaring prayer as the strings come in on the first chorus. “Too Much A Dream” is the broken heart that follows what precedes it, all acoustic guitar and pedal steel slide. “No Matter Where” made me cry at work like six times, and it’s the song on the record where things slide from Erin singing lead to Willie singing lead, and it’s a perfect fusion of their voices. “Maybe I Can Mean It” is low and sad and shows off all the flaws of Willie’s voice, which just makes the song more raw and more intimate. “Two Drinks” is a plea to things you can’t have, and Erin switching seamlessly from blues to country wail.

And that’s why I’m having a hard time getting a handle on how to tell you why this record is so great: it’s all over the map, nothing sounds the same, and it’s all outstanding and unique and brilliant because of its uniqueness. I think this record is good because my friends made it; I think it’s great because it really is great.

You can get it on iTunes, or from Bandcamp.

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