A wee mention on a Scottish website for Cody McCarver, ex major league country band Confederate Railroad, is not going to make any difference to his life, so this review of his new album is for the benefit of Flyinshoes readers who might overlook a mainstream redneck country act like Mr McCarver. We’re rooting for independent artists on this site, musicians of high quality who don’t get much of a look-in with the media generally, but it’s worth pointing out how good some of these more commercial acts are. I honestly wasn’t aware of Cody McCarver or Confederate Railroad till I heard this album, but having been thoroughly entertained by the wit and warmth of his music, it’s been quite fun to check out the man’s background.
He’s the real deal, a boy from Tennessee whose own father is doing life in the state pen; he got himself into a band, made a stack of money and now enjoys covering a song like White Trash With Money which pokes fun at the white collar neighbours made uncomfortable by their redneck neighbour. His own song on the same sort of theme is slightly more nuanced: You Can’t Hide Money deals with trying to remain a good ol’ boy whilst obviously having a pile of money to splash around. He’s ok with it all though, not at all wrecked by success, it seems, and two big signature songs here find him in a soft-hearted, inclusive frame of mind. He talks at various points about supporting the troops and heart-of-America values so it’s clear which side of the political divide you’d expect him to be on. However, even while he’s talking up how much he loves the redneck life – the fishing and hunting, the chasing up back roads in jacked-up trucks – he makes it clear that anyone’s welcome to join in. All the characters that polite society would consider dodgy “ain’t bad folk, they’re just redneck friends of mine”. You might think that he’s coming over as rednecks against the world but he signs off by singing “we all got a little Redneck” and inviting us to be Redneck Friends of Mine. He might look like a real badass in that cover photo, but he’s a big puppy, really.
The big song here is I’m America, an anthem that’s earned him a lot of gigs supporting the US troops but, like Born in the USA, is much more than it seems. Cody’s song is slow and sombre as he lists all the different plain folks who make up the American nation. Well he doesn’t specifically mention Mexican fruit pickers or Baltimore hip-hop artists in his litany of truck drivers, single moms and wounded vets, but his chorus runs: “I’m America, I’m left and right, Black (sic) and white, And everything in between…We’re North and South, We’re faith and doubt, We’re all we can be…We’re America”. At a time of febrile political divisions, this could be a very important song, one that helps to heal wounds – so long as people actually listen.
A couple of songs demonstrate how much the times are a-changin’ in the world of the redneck male. Good Ol’ Time is a collaboration with Big Smo; still talking about “rollin’ through the backwoods”, “lovin’ wild women” and all that but this is a rap number, for goodness sakes, chanting the lines over the loops like it’s 1990. Well, I don’t know much about these things but it sounds kind of old style to me; I guess it works, I can picture a load of guys in Stetsons doing goofy loose-necked dancing round the bonfire to this. More inclusiveness, if more than a little unexpected. The other one that caught my ear is Bow Chicka Wow Wow, which sounds like pure testosterone fuelled redneck rocking country. Hanging at the bar, leering at the girl who’s just walked in, it sounds like the rush of lust is going to sweep all before it. But no, the girl’s “just here to dance” and, when he does make a move, she tells him to back off, “I only dance solo”. So, he has to make an effort: he gets himself a blue-ray copy of Stayin’ Alive (to practise some dance moves, I presume) and comes into the club next time “looking all GQ”. Again, the chorus invites you to leer “bow chicka wow wow” like that’s all you need to do to show you’re a man, but the lyric is telling a different tale.
He rattles off singable tunes like it’s the easiest thing in the world: he knows who his audience are and what they want to hear but he doesn’t want to exclude anyone from his redneck good times – this is warm-hearted, funny, entertaining stuff, and I’m in.
Add a Comment