Record Of The Week # 83

Chicago Farmer – Flyover Country

Cody Diekhoff aka ‘Chicago Farmer’ opened for The Band Of Heathens on a recent tour. Eventually a conversation started about Diekhoff recording his 6th album of ten songs at the band’s Austin, TX studio. Thrown in was their accompaniment and production support. The result is a fine album of what makes up Country Americana.

The arrangement brings together the combination of Diekhoff’s blue-collar worker against the ‘man’ lyrics, some top tunes and a great band that’s capable of several styles and moods. “Flyover Country” is a phrase the Americans apply to the States in between the populated eastern and western coasts. His tremulous voice soars over a slow acoustic arrangement telling us about the people who live in these heartlands. Less serious is a current live favourite called “$13 Beers”. Diekhoff paints a picture we all know about attending a concert at a large venue: poor visibility, parlous sound and extortionate drink prices. After setting the scene he exits to find a smaller venue to listen to Robbie Fulks at $4 a drink.

The band can dial down the sound to let his plaintive vibrato tell the tale. At all times the words are telling a great story. “Collars” is another tribute to small town folk. The better collar to have is white rather than blue. His distinct voice is fine when upfront over a gentle backing or fighting it out on a rocker such as “All In One Place”. Here the band let rip and lend their voices to the chorus. All the tracks are self-penned except one. The cover is Hank Williams’ “Ramblin’ Man”. This is presented as a solo acoustic guitar blues and demonstrates the breadth of the sounds available here.

My highlight was “Dirtiest Uniforms” for its bright and uplifting tune and words. This is sung in a conversational style, initially over an acoustic guitar, and we’re introduced to inspirational characters who’s appearance may have fallen short but not their hard work, integrity and contribution. The album’s quality doesn’t flag; whether it’s Southern rock, Americana or simpler folk music the pace remains spot on and engaging. A real find.

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