Sunday, July 11, 2021


 Speaking of the evolution of country-rock fusion, it seemed some years ago that the movement has gotten to the point where the songs, the arrangements, are painted by numbers affair, a kind of assembly line professionalism where songs contain elements of rock and country--power chords, blues guitar licks, hard backbeats for rock, pedal steel guitars, fiddles, harmonica flourishes for the country--that lack all authenticity or conviction. I am thinking specifically of Shania Twain, a Canadian who is an outstanding example of country pop-rock that has been calculated to appeal to a broad audience. Quantity, remember, reduces quality.

 It seems the same thing happened to the exhilarating jazz-rock genre when it got formalized to a very recognizable set of riffs, solos, resolutions, all-flash, speed, and no improvisation in a short period. "Rock this Country" likewise is all riffs and no heart, teeter-tottering between the rock accents and the country lilts. It is a Frankenstein monster, neither alive nor dead, ganglia of nerves pulling the beast in different confusing directions. Maybe the saddest part of this whole Cuisinart method of music for mass audiences is the engineered homogeneity of the music. Which is to say, strains of melody and phrases vaguely familiar but rootless and inspiring no listener reflection nor reaction (save for a twitch of a muscle that might have been stimulated to get up and dance), is it leaves one void after listening. It's like nasty sex, in the respect that after the Big Event, one or both partners stare at the ceiling or rise from the bed wordlessly, exchanging no sounds except for frustrated grunts. Critics come up with a string of songs like this one and find themselves challenged to add anything new to a genre that refuses to up its game. All one can do is rewrite the initial invective, reword it, try to reshape arguments already made elsewhere until such a time that the critic resigns their post to seek honest work as a carnival worker. 

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