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All About the Ride
Artist: Clint Clymer
Label: Big Bender Records
Length: 10 tracks / 38:16 min
It’s All About the Ride starts off on a high-note with a bluesy country piece, “One, Two, Three”, skillfully accented with harmonica, and creative lyrics:
I was born inside a bottle, daddy’s blood stain on my hand. Baptized by the liquor, Lord and outlaw is my brand.
Clymer is at his best when he’s playing his brand of optimistic folk-blues, which holds true for nearly half the album. The guitar work on “When the Lights Go Down” is even reminiscent of Eric Clapton. But the other half of the album is pretty standard country faire albeit with more interesting than normal acoustic guitar and harmonica fills.
Many regular Tollbooth readers will be happy to know that Clymer does not shy away from Christian themes in his music. The final track even includes the chorus:
I sing glory, gloryFor those listeners who regularly enjoy country music, they will probably enjoy the full album and not only the blues-oriented pieces that stood out to this reviewer.
This is Cowboy Music. Yes, I said ‘Cowboy Music.’ You might think that I meant to say ‘country,’ ‘folk,’ ‘Americana,’ or some other acoustic guitar-driven form – and it might have elements of all of those – but, no. This is Cowboy Music, as in Big Hat wearin’, wheat-stalk in the teeth, dog by your side, half-empty liquor bottle on the table Cowboy Music. Even though It’s All About the Ride is distributed by Hapi Skratch, and is co-produced (along with Clymer) by Dave Beegle, who is usually associated with a very Eastern sound, this project is as western as the Ponderosa. Do you see where I’m going here? You have to really like that Country & Western / cowboy sound to enjoy this CD.
Clymer does what he does very well – and having Dave Beegle by his side certainly doesn’t hurt. This collection of songs would probably be overly depressing if it wasn’t for the underlying hope (Christ) that emerges from the hidden dark corners of the singer-songwriter’s dark, smoky saloon of the soul. The instrumentation is sparse, but certainly proficient, consisting of the expected guitars (Clint, Beegle and Tom Hartley), upright bass (Mike Olson), and fiddle (Rex Bolan), all augmenting Clint’s smooth Texas baritone – naturally, the occasional fiddle and harmonica make cameo appearances.
It seems as if Clymer has done everything right – maybe even producing a ‘textbook’ example of what a country-cowboy album should sound like – but I couldn’t help but feel he occasionally veered dangerously close to a country version of “This Is Spinal Tap.” We’ve all heard the old joke about what you hear when you play a country album backwards: the dog comes back, the wife comes back, you get sober, etc. In the case of It’s All About the Ride, you put in the CD, press play, and start to count the clichés. The first line of the first track begins, “I was born inside a bottle,” the second track, “The Ride,” tells about meeting a mysterious stranger in an antique Cadillac, who talks about the blues and making people cry “when you strum them strangs” …..And – get ready, now – that mysterious stranger seems an awful lot like Hank Williams! ….or maybe his ghost?! Have I made my point yet? If not, try this - the fifth track is called “Trailer Park,” and features this delightful opening line: “Grandma was a whore.” Trust me, folks – this ain’t Steven Curtis Chapman.
This project certainly has
a defined approach, but comes off as a bit one-dimensional, and perhaps
too mired down in its own genre. The boozy, country ballad style can wear
thin after the first several tracks, and left me wishing Clint would channel
a little of Garth Brooks’ energy. Yes, I was longing for some Garth Brooks.
…unless you’re looking to meet the ghost of Hank Williams – then, give
it at least 1 extra tock.