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THE KERNAL —LIGHT COUNTRY (Single Lock Records)

http://singlelockrecords.com

 

Here we have another album from Muscle Shoalsindependent record label Single Lock Records, and it is one label boss, and fellow recording artist John Paul White is understandably proud of. The Kernal is described as a southern gentleman with an old soul, a man tied deeply to the legacy and showmanship of the wandering musician and the historic Grand Ole Opry. His brand of music has been described as homegrown Southern Mystique.   

 

The Kernal is renowned for his hugely entertaining shows. Among other things of late he has opened for the above noted John Paul White and previous to that played bass for the likes of new Americana act Andrew Combs and Jonny Fritz. Light Country is a most appropriate title for an album giving a nod or two to 1970s Nashville Countrypolitan, plus the pop singer-songwriters of the time. His country roots are genuine, and with his father having played with Sleepy LaBeef and The Kendalls (Jeannie and Royce) and for a long time, Del Reeves, right up to Reeves’ death in 2007, his own followed later that same year The Kernal has great pedigree. 

 

The Kernal’s musical influences and styles he favours range from the likes of 1970s Ray Stevens to Roger Miller and singer-songwriters of the age Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson (“Lubbock County”).

 

Among the songs that jump out at the listener are “Knock Kneed Ballerina” and reflective ode “At The Old Taco Bell” and with twangy guitar and a distinctive 1970s mellow singer-songwriter pop of “Cold Shoulder”. While on singing in at a higher pitch “Try Again” has a wistful feel and though offering a little more once he gets into the track it isn’t one I recommend (it is also a little fluffy). Better by a country mile you have the quick-paced piano warmed “I Understand” that sees The Kernal close on high. With loose lyrics set to take to the road and where anything goes he sings; I would rather your rake leaves and barely eatin’ and making the rent and come tottering home at three in the morning and on having breakfast for lunch. The off centre, Ray Stevens and Roger Miller-like tale can't help but bring a smile to the face of the listener. 

 

Interspersed with the songs you also have a snippet or two of his family of old who came from Rome, Georgia perform gospel songs as heard on the opening for “Knock Need Ballerina”. Adding to the above other notables “Tennessee Sun” is an excellent affair, and it contains hints of Bob Dylan’s style of the 1970s and is that B3-organ I hear.  

 

I said close in relationship with “I Understand”, but there is actually another cameo family track, but that is about it from The Kernal and his travelling band that includes electric, acoustic, pedal steel guitar, keys, organ, percussion and drums.

Producers are Ben Tanner and Kern. 

 

                                                            Maurice Hope      

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April 2018

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