Sunday 17 December 2017

nashville's silver-tongued devils take to the stage

When we think of Nashville, the first thing that springs to mind in a musical sense is country music. This notion of the Tennessee city as a hotbed of rootsy music was forged down the decades but, oddly enough, the reality is that Nashville is essentially an industry town which has always had a rather troubled relationship with country's more maverick spirits.

Hank Williams was effectively run out of the place after one too many dust-ups with the people behind the Grand Ol' Opry, despite being the greatest songwriter the genre ever produced and by the early '70s the 'outlaw' brigade -- Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings et al -- were being marginalised in favour of more corporate fare.

In recent years, what passes for mainstream country in the eyes of the industry is little more than precision-tooled AOR with a hint of pedal steel and the lead singer proudly wearing a stetson.

No, being a Nashville cat ain't what it used to be, so one can only imagine how a band like The Silver Seas must have struggled to be heard in such an environment. Initially called The Bees until a name clash with a UK outfit prompted a rethink, The Silver Seas may have come to people's attention on this side of the world with their second album, This Country Life, but their music is far removed from modern Nashville fare.

Based around the songwriting talents of singer/guitarist Daniel Tashian and pianist/producer Jason Lehning, The Silver Seas are pop purists with a particular feel for classic late '70s/early '80s stylings. This Country Life's standout track High Society is a beautifully crafted ballad which wouldn't have disgraced a Hall & Oates album of the period.

There's a lushness to the Silver Seas allied to classically crafted songs which makes for a wonderful mix. And not a fiddle or a stetson in sight.

The Silver Seas play Whelan's on Wednesday night. Chateau Revenge! is released through EMI.

-- george byrne

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