Years ago there was a commercial for salsa where one character was appalled that a competing brand was made in New York City. Even the suggestion that a good western flavor can come from such an urban metropolis was unthinkable. Well, Shotgun Wedding is out to prove with South of Somewhere that good country music can come out of the city that never sleeps.
This talented outfit has a tough road to hoe, too, because two of its members (guitarist Dennis DelGaudio and pianist Wade Preston) have both worked with that piano man in a New York state of mind, Billy Joel. The five-member act’s individual bios also list multiple Broadway musical work experiences, which don’t exactly sound like the cowboy way.
With that said, though, this group comes to its own defense with the album’s title track. It begins by confessing that no member in the act was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Even so, though, everybody’s from the South – at least the south of somewhere. The song’s lyric goes on to detail a love for country music – even name-dropping Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson – right there in the city.
From the sound of it, Shotgun Wedding oftentimes sounds a whole lot more country than many current Nashville residents. Acts like Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert and Jason Aldean – to list three quick examples – draw more upon rock (if not more specifically southern rock) than anything traditionally country.
Furthermore, a lot of current country music is hypocritical, in that there are endless songs extolling the virtues of sweet tea and back roads, which are then slapped onto classic rock musical backings. Artists shouldn’t say they’re ‘country,’ but then turn around and not even sound like a country performer.
Its easy to respect Shotgun Wedding for consistently singing about what they know. For instance, “Footsteps Away” speaks about how New York is laid out in such a way that so much good culture is centrally located. Or as the song puts it, these artistic adventures are only footsteps away. One certainly can’t say the same thing about Los Angeles. This track is also highlighted by some sweet country fiddling.
Shotgun Wedding splits lead vocals between Catherine Porter and Wade Preston. Porter tends to take on the album’s sadder songs. For instance, it’s Porter that complains about how difficult it is to listen to sad songs with “Hurtin’ Songs,” especially when one is in a lot of pain. “The Answer” is also kind of a funny Porter-led song. It lists all the destinations on a woman’s spiritual search, only to end with the conclusion that what she really needed to do was get rid of a bad romantic partner.
Just as you can’t always tell a book by its cover, one can’t always evaluate a musical genre by an act’s hometown. A lot of wonderful rock & roll has derived from many country music hot spots, and Shotgun Wedding is living proof that good country music can even come out of a big city like New York.