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D. Striker rediscovers the smoky, honky-tonk country sound of a pre-corporate Music City.
I received an email a few weeks ago, a very polite, professional email from a fellow named D. Striker out of Nashville. Mr. Striker explained who he was, what he did, when he was coming to town and asked if I would consider listening to his new album.
I admit I was taken aback. Usually I have to chase down bands and beg for material, which I frequently receive after the deadline for these music features has passed (making me very popular around the office) but here was this cat going completely old-school in his approach. That is what we in the word business call “foreshadowing”.
As it happens, Mr. D. Striker is about as old-school as you can get: a country musician who dresses, sounds and (I suspect) lives the part. The disc arrived a few days ago, and if it had been vinyl I would have sworn it was late ’50s/early ’60s vintage just by the look of it. Aside from the crystal-clear quality of the recording, the music itself supports that notion, as Striker has managed to capture the essence of smoky, late-night honky-tonk in his music.
This is not rockabilly or psychobilly or fusion-country or any of a dozen other flavors of new-wave country. This is the good old stuff, or rather it’s new stuff done the old-fashioned way. This is country music from an era when being a player at the Grand Ole Opry meant you were practically royalty.
It was an era of music that saw a curious blend of elegance and sawdust, refined grit and ladies’ hairstyles that put Marge Simpson to shame, but underneath all the pomp and circumstance of that time, there was real music being performed by real songwriters. The plastification of Nashville hadn’t quite taken hold yet.
That era is what Striker’s music captures. But he is not an anachronism, no mere player dressing up to re-enact the “good ol’ days”. His music is contemporary—the marriage of old and new is tackled head-on in the tune, “Three Dudes in an Office”, in which the singer makes the point that authenticity isn’t bound up in trappings. It’s all about intent and how a great deal of what is perceived as “country” was/is manufactured by three dudes in an office down on Music Row.
“You brag you’re a redneck and I don’t doubt that’s true but livin’ near a strip mall, well that’s country too…”
So it is.
The album, Come Over Here, boasts 13 tracks and covers a lot of ground, much of it having to do with the “on the street” experiences of a classic country artist in the modern Nashville scene. It’s a fascinating exploration based on that alone, never mind that the music itself is beautifully arranged. The pervasive steel guitar is like an angelic chorus, albeit one whose halos are canted to one side, and Striker’s lyrics are clever and biting, humorous and full of depth. In terms of country music, this is the most sincere pumpkin patch I’ve seen in a long, long time.
Your opportunity to experience this firsthand is fast approaching. D. Striker will be appearing at JJ’s Bohemia on July 17 with Big Kitty as part of a promotional tour for the album.
Whether your tastes run to country or not, there is so much appeal to this collection of tunes you need to hear it, and I’m certain you’ll want to own it. Beautiful playing and smart lyrics transcend any genre. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better example of what noncorporate Nashville is up to these days than Come Over Here.