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Hayseed Dixie - No Covers

Hayseed Dixie, No Covers

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

AMERICAN Rockgrass raconteurs Hayseed Dixie release their seventh – yes, that’s seventh – album in the form of No Covers, a full length collection of original material that marks the first time they wrote all the songs themselves.

The result is an oddball collection of songs – some fun, others bonkers – that mostly win you over to their charms.

Half the songs are acoustic, the other half electric and the banjo plays a large part throughout. It’s this little instrument, as much as anything, that helps to endear the album to listeners so much.

But unlike some of their previous material, there’s also a more definite structure to their songwriting, so much so that they go some way to banishing their status as a slapstick novelty act.

Songs like When Washington Comes Around and album opener Bouncing Betty Boogie, in particular, display a greater maturity and are strong listens – the former, especially, emerging as a firm album highlight with its emphatic chorus, political observations and well-realised banjo interludes.

Hayseed Dixie can’t always resist the urge to do something different or madcap, though. Bouncing Betty Boogie is as ambiguous a track as you’re likely to hear this year – one part obsevation on the art of chatting up a loose girl in a bar, another part sarcastically yet sincerely daring a land mine to dance.

Set Myself On Fire is as insane (and incendiary) as its name suggests, while Born To Die In France mixes some surreal life and death observations with some fairly aloof statements (such as the name of the song itself).

Further evidence of their wacky tendencies are rife throughout Stonewall Hicks, which begins with a telephone answering machine message stating: “The person you are calling is not answering because they are a lying, dishonest, despicable, disgusting, cowardly, utterly contemptible, well and truly worthless pile of pigeon excrement…” It then unleashes a frenzied, but kinda fun, banjo assault, before dropping in the useless piece of trivia that is: “A pigeon produces between 10 and 12 pounds of excrement per year…” Make of that what you will – both in terms of composition and ideology.

Elsewhere, Gonna Be Alright is an upbeat slice of hickey reassurance that you can imagine people dancing around a campfire to, while the shouty You’ve Got Me All Wrong is an enticing mix of rockgrass that probably showcases what Hayseed Dixie do best.

Trickle Down, conversely, is fast, furious, fiddle-strewn and banjo heavy – and another dancefloor filler if you’re so inclined.

I have to confess that the prospect of hearing another Hayseed Dixie album after last year’s Weapons of Grass Destruction wasn’t all that appealing. But with No Covers they’ve delivered an album that’s strangely addictive and which suggests that this hard working band aren’t to be written off just yet. Rather, they have the ability to surprise and entertain in equal measure, if still being a little insane!

Download picks: When Washington Comes Around, Trickle Down, You’ve Got Me All Wrong Baby, Bouncing Betty Boogie, Donkeys In Morocco

Track listing:

  1. Bouncing Betty Boogie
  2. Set Myself On Fire
  3. When Washington Comes Around
  4. Born To Die In France
  5. Stephanie Come To Me Secretly
  6. Stonewall Hicks
  7. Everybody Knows
  8. Gonna Be Alright
  9. You’ve Got Me All Wrong Baby
  10. Trickle Down
  11. Last Days Coming
  12. Donkeys In Morocco
  13. Frustration
  14. That’s It I Quit