Authenticity is the watchword in Americana circles. As any number of promising European-based contenders have found out the hard way, you’ve got a head start if you’re from Nashville rather than Nuneaton if you’re trying to keep afloat within this genre and its’ tributaries.
Sometimes, though, a band can sound so utterly authentic that it’s hard to believe they could possibly have come from anywhere other than the part of the world suggested by the music they are so obviously in tune with.
Such is the case with THE FOGHORN TRIO. Based around founding members of The Foghorn Stringband, Stephen ‘Sammy’ Lind and Caleb Klauder plus Quebec-born Nadine Landry, the sound they make on ‘Sud de la Louisiane’ taps into a world of Kentucky bluegrass, Louisiana Cajun and Appalachian folk. It’s an ancient world where Elvis Presley (never mind Lady Gaga) is merely a glint in the eye of the future and terms like ‘credit crunch’ are wholly alien to the lexicon.
Consequently, it’s a bit of a reality check to look a bit closer and discover the band are based in urban Portland, Oregon although they did make the trek south to record the album in Eunice, Louisiana with Joel Savoy. A picture of the studio (formerly Savoy’s grandpa’s cook shack) graces the jacket of the CD and it’s a pretty fair visual representation of the album’s desire to literally get back to the country.
If you’re on the trail of a bona fide old time Americana experience, you’ve certainly picked the right barn dance. ‘Sud de la Louisiane’ is live, intimate and passionate, based around all-acoustic instrumentation such as mandolins, acoustic guitars, fiddles and stand-up bass. Indeed, on celebratory tracks like ‘Liza Jane’ and the instrumental hoe-down ‘Nuts & Bolts’ you can almost hear the timbers creaking as boots stamp on the floor to batter out an accompanying rhythm.
The majority of the tunes are covers, although much thought has gone into the cherry-picking, ensuring that lonely, God-fearing Country/Folk numbers like the Carter Family-penned ‘Hello Central’ flow seamlessly into the Cajun stylings of the title track and a spirited bluegrass chase like Noah Beavers’ ‘None of Your Business.’ There are a couple of originals penned by Caleb Klauder, but his mandolin-imbued lament ‘Just a Little’ and effervescent instrumental ‘Puttin’ up the Wood’ are constructed so skilfully they feel like vintage trips down memory lane anyway.
By the time the closing ‘A Bottle of Wine and Ginger Cake’ winds down, you’ve long since blown your inhibitions away and joined in the most celebratory party you’ll be invited to all year. With ‘Sud de la Louisiane’, The Foghorn Trio take your hand and lead you back to a simpler, more inclusive world which puts people and life first. Hearing them really does do you the world of good.
Foghorn String Band online