Before I even started listening to Citizens Of Nashville by Bob Menzies I was expecting that “Nashville Sound” because of the title. Turns out I was right. Citizens Of Nashville was in fact recorded and mixed in Nashville and also contains some of Nashville's finest studio musicians. The production can certainly be categorized as that “Nashville Sound” but not only because the songs feature pedal steel guitars. It’s the snap of the snare, the rich mid-range and the radio friendly production that is so easy on the ears.
Citizens Of Nashville was recorded and mixed in Nashville but Menzies took his talent to Mississippi first. It was there that he re-worked the songs and got them ready for the studio. If I had to guess I would say the location had a lot to do with how these songs turned out. The songs spew with a swampy, back door Mississippi vibe that mixes folk, rock, blues and country.
The album doesn’t waste any time introducing the whole band into the mix. “My Time Has Come” combines pedal steel, electric guitar, drums and bass into an initial burst of warmth before settling into a slighty stripped back verse for Menzies to sing over. When the second verse comes piano is introduced into the mix to provide some variation. Menzies’ vocals sound honest and confident as he sings, “I got a feeling, my day is done I got a feeling, my time has come.”
“Love And Glory” contains a good amount of traditional Americana that shouldn't sound too unfamiliar to anyone while “Black Cat Hiding” blends a bit more country into the mix. It was on these songs that I was reminded me of Bruce Springsteen. I don't think Menzies sounds like The Boss but something about his inflection and delivery seemed reminiscent.
One of the highlights “You Can’t Go Home Again” builds with energy as it progresses. It starts off with a steady kick and light guitar playing. You know it's going to explode within a given time. It does reach a couple of enjoyable climaxes but never goes overboard.
”No More Cards In The Game” is a solemn song in which Menzies sings the familiar story about a lone figure who has been through thick and thin. Perhaps a story we have heard one too many times but nonetheless the song was enjoyable. Menzies ends with an upbeat closer entitled “Follow Me Down.” I thought the hopeful song was a good way to close the album.
Citizens Of Nashville is not only enjoyable because of the music but because after listening you can get an idea of the time and effort that was put into it. The arrangements, the production and everything else aren’t something you whip up without some serious man-hours. Hats off to Menzies and the dedication he put into creating Citizens Of Nashville.
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