Tyler McCumber Band - Saracene Sessions: Tape 1
By Kelcy Salisbury
I just got a copy of the new Tyler McCumber Band album, Saracene Sessions: Tape 1. This is the first release I've heard from McCumber since Catch Me several years back.
Now to be fair, I would consider Tyler a friend although I've yet to meet him in person, so let me give a brief review of my impressions of Catch Me to put my thoughts of it in perspective to my feelings about this new release.
Catch Me had moments that hinted at talent and a well honed musicianship that seemed like there was SOMETHING there. What it was was difficult to pin down. Was McCumber a Kevin Fowler-esque slightly hackneyed self of "White Trash Farm" or was he the Randy Rogers type "Music Man" with a dash of Wade Bowen on "Hollis, OK" or was he the he the Hayes Carll type of "Uncle Sams Gun?" There were a lot of approaches but none seemed completely his OWN.
On Saracene Sessions: Tape 1, the total opposite is true & it's the best possible thing that could have happened.
Tyler refers to his music as "Rural Rock" and it truly is. Yes, it will hopefully and deservedly get airplay on TX Country radio. But it's not Texas country. It's no more country than Cross Canadian Ragweed in their Red Dirt heyday or Ray Wylie Hubbard at his greasiest.
This is the record The Tyler McCumber band had in them all along & I had my doubts until this week. McCumber isn't blessed with the greatest pipes in this business. His band isn't the musical titan of the scene (they are no slouches by any means either).
The record is the purest combination of storytelling songwriting, musicianship and production that I've heard all year. It may be the most perfect I've heard in 5 years.
I can't say the record grabbed me at first listen. I was preoccupied with family matters and listened to it only as background music. When I finally had the chance to pay attention tonight and really listen to it a couple of times through: HOLY BARKING SPIDERS BATMAN!
I can't really describe the album but to say that you can hear influences of many artists though it owes much more to ZZ Top than any traditional country influence. That is to say, it is funky, full of soul, garnished with blues elements, just country enough to garner country airplay and dripping with songwriting that tells of stories you can't disbelieve.
It's Texas music beyond a doubt, but the regional references aren't the clichés. There are dark stories aplenty but there is a message of positivity lying beneath the surface. This is a rare skill & one just being honed on Catch Me. There is nothing trite or hackneyed on this album.
"Whisky Shots & Stitches" is an early contender for Song Of The Year.
There is no doubting the stories McCumber tells & there is no question in the listener's mind that they are hearing the truth.
His voice fits the material perfectly and the production, while not perfect is just right for the music, if that makes any kind of sense.
The "political" songs "Don't Blame The Gun" & "Roughneck" ring of Charlie Daniels and Jason Boland, respectively, but the sound is all his own.
I don't know that I've heard a band or a songwriter grow this much between two albums any time in a decade or more and that's a huge part of my opinion. Tyler McCumber is a GREAT songwriter. Javi Garcia once told me so [Editor's Note: NAMEDROPPER!], but based in Catch Me I had my doubts. Those are erased.
Early contender for album of the year? Absolutely. Check Tyler OUT on Facebook or search www.lonestarmusic.com for copies. itunes soon I hope. This deserves to be heard.
This is an album I hope my daughter appreciates in 20 years. Granted, that may sound like hype, but it's the highest praise I can give an album of such great songwriting & Saracene Sessions: Tape 1 is deserving of all that.