Workers In Songs

That Glorious Masterpiece

Written by: HES on 29/01/2015 22:42:54

The last couple of years have been good to the Danish country/folk scene and Workers In Songs seem to have been harvesting moderate praise from my peers, so when opportunity knocked in the shape of a small backlog of albums in this particular part of the genre, I thought I'd take "That Glorious Masterpiece" under scrutiny. I have to admit that it's been a sad experience: the Roskilde band simply end up sounding more like a caricature of what I think was intended. I know that country is a dogmatic genre (with a bit of rebellion in alt-country subgenre), and I respect that some things always sound the same - and I even appreciate the beauty in perfecting a craft - which is what I really consider country to be. However - the success of a country album, at least for this scribe is relying mainly on the authenticity and the originality of both music and narrative. “That Glorious Masterpiece” seems to miss that point entirely.

First off the album has a lyrical universe that revolves around general americana themes - motels, sweaty asphalt, hot deserts, heaven and hell. I understand one's inclinations to make use of this imagery as it fits well with the musical themes. But it adds very little actual narrative and seems like cop-out themes rather than actually working on a storytelling, using textbook imagery borderlining cliché. The reason I go straight for the lyrical universe is because I think country/folk has a deeply rooted tradition of strong narratives exposing the true face of the town brute, or the thoughts of the working class. Instead of applying themselves to this narrative a lot of unnecessary time is spent on trying to validify the band's 'country-ness' through these platitudes whereas a stronger focus on actual storytelling would probably have fixed that for the band. Instead of appreciating the storyline, I can’t take my eyes off the poorly painted movie sets. Even in the ballad "Sorry Marie", we get more of these really empty phrases such as “I don't have a typewriter, I write the thoughts down in my mind” or “love will make you drink and gamble” - it sounds about right, but it is never picked up by the composition or elaboration, lyrically or musically.

The feeling of caricature is supported by some genuinely horrible musical decisions, borderlining bad taste. Case in point could be “Hey Hey Pretty Baby” or the honky tonk yodely “Crazy For You” - I mean some tracks are just below decent, but this is hair-pullingly horrible. The yodeling of Morten Krogh is a matter of taste, but the construction of the song, not unlike a lazy version of "Jailhouse Rock", is so anonymous it actually would have been completely forgettable without it. This song only sticks out as the worst example, but most of the songs are so predictable they basically sound like every other substandard country cuts, just lacking the authenticity that some of those artists I will mention in the FTFO-section below have going for them. The only tracks that really work are the more bluesy ones like "Billie Said it First" and some instrumental "fillers" the band has added, where it is actually apparent that some talent is to be found composition-vise. The band is also graced by a female vocal on the title track and "Next To You" that actually manages to challenge the charade a bit by being distinctively non-country. There are also some nice banjo-work and lap steel guitar. But most of it feels like it only appears good, after being exposed to Krogh’s persistently awful yodeling. I would have loved to see it used as an emphasizer or an effect, but the constant pitch transitions is enough to make most seasick. Besides that I would have loved to see more ambition with the melodic compositions, yet most of the songwriting bears the stamp of "monkey see, monkey do".

4

Download: Billie Said it First, That Glorious Masterpiece, Next To You
For The Fans Of: Hank Williams, Hank Williams III, Whitey Morgan, Ray Whylie Hubbard
Listen: Facebook

Release date 18.08.2014
Damn Right Records

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