Ahh, Those Darlins. Is there a more appropriately named band anywhere? Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s finest, bassist Kelley Darlin, guitarist Jessi Darlin, and baritone ukulele player Nikki Darlin (all share vocal duties) could well be the saviors of true, honest-to-Hank Williams Country & Western, as they demonstrate capably on their LP debut, aptly named Those Darlins.
This is not the tofu version of crap that’s been peddled to listeners of so-called “country” by big labels for far too long. Those Darlins are playing the chicken fried steak version, complete with a heaping helping of gravy and biscuits for sopping. These ladies would make predecessors like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn feel proud.
Hold on a minute, you’re thinking. Isn’t this an indie music blog? What the hell is this? Well, Those Darlins have taken an almost seemingly forgotten sound and updated it, giving it just enough rock and rockabilly sensibilities to impress anyone with an ear for strong tunes. This is not bumpkin or hayseed music; this is good music, plain and simple.
Sure, they cover a lot of country’s most infamous topics, like drinking too much, problems with no good men and small towns, but that covers damn near most indie music, too, so get over it. I don’t believe there are any mentions of any ex-lovers stealing a beloved hound dog; decide for yourself if that’s a good or bad thing. There are, however, songs about eating chickens and being a snaggle toothed mama, and that can’t be a bad thing. Plus, they opened for Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame on his recent solo tour. If that doesn’t give a band its bona fides, I don’t know what does.
The only “complaint” for me here is the fact that a number of these tracks already were out there on their Wild One EP and/or at a variety of live sessions available on the web. Thankfully, the additions to the LP are among some of their finest work. The harmonizing grows tighter, the guitar work stronger–if you’re only going to come out with about half of a new album, you better make sure the new stuff kicks ass. Those Darlins did.