One More Night In Nashville
A fundamental component of country music’s timeless appeal has always been and always will be its honest, at times wry simplicity. The genre’s roots run deep in the hearts and lives of common people, where success is measured far more by an indomitable spirit than by the shininess of brimming bank accounts. While that’s a lesson that Music Row and its legions of sycophants have pretty well forgotten, their march toward mediocrity in no way affects the legitimacy of country at its best. Just makes it easier for a whole lot of folks to overlook the fact that it’s still there for anyone who wants it. And while the burgeoning alt-country/outlaw/pick-a-title movements continue to gain steam and churn out incredibly worthwhile artists with impressive catalogs, sometimes it’s just a blessing to find a slice of peaceful down-home picking where the stories feel like friends and the characters like family sitting around a table spinning yarns.
Of such is the latest from Kurt Fortmeyer comprised. One More Night In Nashville runs all over the place with its stories, pretty much exactly like my granddaddy used to do with his when the urge to get verbose was upon him. The roads traveled here seem familiar, even safe, but not in a vanilla sense. There are some sharp edges, some emotional cliffs to just up and fall right off of if you’re not careful. But even in those moments there’s a grounded and rational sanity to the track list that’s reassuring in the best of ways.
Plenty of homespun wisdom to be found, too, and the first notion of that pops up in the opening track. “(I Got My Heart) Broke In” kicks off with a couple of beautiful fiddles and dives right into real world examples of what it takes to get things where they need to be. New jeans that have to be washed countless times before they fit the way you like ‘em, the band-aids that can get used up quick on scrapes and cuts that are par for the life when you’re breaking in a new pair of boots. A man will tell you he wears his favorite pair for years because he loves the way they fit, but if he’s honest he’ll admit that half the reason is he’s terrified of going ice skating on a pair of new ones ‘til the soles are appropriately scuffed up. But as with everything else in this world, the simple lessons in our day to day activities are really just reminders of what we need to do if we ever want the big stuff to really work. Like love, for example. There are mountains of books on that subject, advice everywhere you look. Men are from Mars, women are from, uh, well, someplace else. The Rules. Blah blah. That stuff’s all fluff, folks. You want love, you just get real good at being you until you find the one whose heart fits yours like a broke-in baseball glove. Then you keep right on being you, just with them. This song spells all that out in simple terms carried on an easy and pleasing melody delivered by a voice so pleasant it can take some effort to pay attention to the lyrics rather than just drift away.
That’s country music the way it’s supposed to be done. Tap your toes, hum along, get a little lift, and learn something in the process. The rest of the record measures up, too.
There are songs of yearning from the deepest pits of a songwriter’s heart that translate just fine to the fears and tenacity of every dreamer who’s ever drawn breath. The title cut is a fine example, and while it’s a finely crafted ode to the gossamer wings of music’s highest mountains, it’s also painful in its way. Anyone who’s ever been who and what they are because they were born to be instead of just because they chose it will understand. “(All You Taught Me How To Do Was) Drink,” mines a similar vein in terms of how we engage with the world around us. Much darker theme this time, though, albeit with a positive ending.
I tuck the young’uns into bed as the thought runs through my head
I learned what not to do by watching you
‘Cause my old man was a man who loved the bottle
More than he loved his wife and kids
It’s no wonder I turned out like I did
He taught me how to hang out in a barroom
And not come home ‘til love had gone to sleep
Lucky kids learn good things from their fathers
All you taught me how to do was drink
And boom, right there again, country at its inimitable best. Maybe our modern society wants us all to believe that we’re just helpless products of our environment. Maybe the suits on Music Row want us to foam at the mouth for ear candy that’ll make us mentally fat and lazy. And maybe, just maybe, none of that matters because the truth remains timeless and each and every one of us carries the power to learn and to improve on our beginnings, no matter how humble or difficult they might have been. It’s all about choices in this world. Country folks still know that because the choices required daily in that life often have immediate impacts – good and bad. Perhaps the comforts of suburbia serve in some ways to remove the immediacy of consequences, allowing us to grow soft and complacent. But the truth is still the truth, and our lives are still ours to live and to thrive in if we so choose. Fortmeyer reminds us of those simple truths in this song without rancor, without a raftload of preachiness, and once again on the gentle waves of a truly beautiful delivery.
Could go on for quite a while about other examples of goodness on One More Night In Nashville. They’re everywhere. Going to suggest, instead, that you go check for yourself. Link to Kurt’s Bandcamp page is below. Let your own ears and soul make the decision for you. But it says here that if you’re craving timeless country music in one of its purer forms, where every moment can be enjoyable and productive all at once, that this record’s one you should add to your pile.
Dave Pilot lives in north Texas with his first good wife (don’t ask about the other one), seven horses, and five dogs. When his wife’s not looking, he tries to figure out ways to feed the 987 or so cats to the coyotes out behind the fenceline. When he’s not trying to raise his kids to turn out better than he did, he’s hitting historical sites on his way to honky-tonks from Denton to Port Aransas. Visit Dave Pilot on Facebook.
Outlaw Magazine. Country, Rock and Roll, Blues, Folk, Americana, Punk. As long as it is real, it is OUTLAW. Overproduced mediocrity need not apply.