When I first heard about Drag the River, I thought it would be another interesting novelty, a side project / supergroup of country-tinged punk. I thought it would sound similar to bands like Limbeck or Legends of Rodeo, both bands that went country after playing emo/punk. Boy, was I wrong.
It’s Crazy. opens with a cover song (“Leavin’ in the Morning”) that is incredibly catchy. From there on, the first handful of songs ride the fence between subdued and energetic. But when “Beautiful and Damned” comes on, you know there’s something special about this album. “Beautiful and Damned” is a hauntingly slow number, with shades of Springsteen, that holds one of the most amazing moments on the album: Chad hitting the line “I believe in time. Time can heal your wounds, if you can’t. You’re beautiful and damned.”
Honestly, the weakest part of this album are Jon’s songs. His accent can, at times, sound fake or forced, though “Cousins” and “Me and Joe Drove Out to California” are both high points, and ”It’s Crazy” is a great way to end the album.
Chad’s songs tend to be the less straightforward ones, but it’s something him and the band are very good at. “Amazing G.” and “Dirty Lips” are great, the latter bordering on Old ‘97s-style pop. However, the weakest point on the album is one of Chad’s -- “Mr. Crews.” It sounds like any number of songs I’ve heard at open mic nights.
The most impressive part of this album is Casey Prestwood’s lead guitar. Not only is he fantastically talented at steel and lead guitars, but the parts are written so well that you almost forget they’re there. Almost. They blend into the song, complementing and bettering them, only taking center stage when absolutely necessary. Casey apparently is available now as a studio musician for just such work, and, after hearing this album, I would imagine he’s incredibly busy.
When I first got this album, I thought it was merely okay. I was worried it would just fall back into my collection, another CD I quit listening to. But it kept ending up back in my stereo. These songs are infectious. It works as background music, but it’s also an album that makes you want to get four of your friends, drive somewhere with the windows down and sing along. But, most importantly, it’s an album that you can sit down and analyze. This may be a sleeper of an album, but it’s a great one. If you like country, folk and classic rock, pick this up. It’s subtle and nuanced, but it’s also energetic and fun. It’s Crazy. is not only one of the most aptly titled CDs this year, but it may end up one of the best.