Country music was not always about glitz, glamour and praising the red, white and blue. In its earliest inception, it was a means for communities and families to get together, quaff whiskey from jugs and mason jars, and share stories about the hardships of life. While most mainstream country artists like to ally themselves with “real” country, few of them come within a good squirt of tobacco juice of it.
Leave it to Portland, Ore.’s Lana Rebel to hit the mark. Dusty roadhouses and the front seats of beat-up Chevys are the landscapes for her broken hearted tales, delivered in a sweet alto with just enough instrumentation to keep it interesting. Don’t expect boot-kicking barnstormers here, or sassy odes to “redneck woman” power; these are love songs, and Lana knows that that is one four-letter word that often rides with hurt.
Lana avoids many of the clichés of country music, like annoying vocal inflections and clever turns of phrases that are just too predictable. Her music falls somewhere between The Virginian-era Neko Case and Mary Gauthier records. If sad songs don’t drive you to drinkin’, and if tales of woe don’t bring you down, this record will be your friend.
Miss Lana Rebel plays Total Fest Saturday, Aug. 16, at 12 PM at the Big Dipper record swap. She also plays the Badlander that night at 9 PM.