Call it country, alt. country or you could well go as far as to coin it “music for all those darn hillbillies and European folk” for that matter. All and none of the above apply, and even then you’d be way off the mark.
What de-categorizes the sound of $olal’s Moonshine Sessions is a hard concept to explain. Let’s just say it’s more a case of trying to push the envelope, albeit under the influence of bootleg bourbon, of course.
Welcome to Paris, Tennessee…
When esteemed music producer, $olal, set off on a jet plane from his native home in the French capital back in December 2004, destined for Nashville – home to any great country legend you could care to mention, his intentions were simple: to make the best possible album with some of the city’s most noted and forward-thinking musicians. Oh, and to try a drop or two of the local under-the-counter brew, Moonshine.
Schooled and influenced heavily by the unequivocal sounds of Neil Young, Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and bluegrass godfather, Bill Munroe, $olal was well aware that this could be no half-baked affair. He had to get it right.
Teaming up with leading lights from the local alt. country/bluegrass scenes – Sam Bush (Vocals, Mandolin), Melonie Cannon (daughter of THE Buddy Cannon) and co-producer, Bucky Baxter, on steel guitar (Steve Earle, Dylan and the Beastie Boys), $olal then began the process of recording the skeleton tracks originally written back in Paris.
On a hill right next to the studio, stood an old shack. Now, to someone not from around Nashville way, this could well go unnoticed, but to the more savvy musicians in $olal’s presence on those long winter nights, this was a sacred place; a home-made distillery serving up straight Moonshine, all totally illegal, hence the word-of-mouth nature of its entire existence.
Needless to say, the fruity taste of this brownish, slightly red bootleg-bourbon liquor went down (almost too) well during the recording sessions that would run on late into the early hours, day after day, so to name the finished body of work anything other than The Moonshine Sessions would have been utterly ridiculous.
As a precursor to the album, the aptly-penned and totally infectious ‘Psycho Girls & Psycow Boys’ – complete with a Haaksman & Haaksman remix adding a touch of electronica to the flipside, couldn’t have summed up $olal’s project any better. A slow-chugging freight train of rhythm passes by while Sam and Melanie hang their feet off an open carriage – jamming vocals, mandolin, steels and all, and The Moonshine Sessions kick back in, bringing high times and heady nights wherever they lay their hat…
Copyright: Swax McIver, 2006.