Andy Vaughan & The Driveline Are ‘Searching for the Song’

August 12, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  8 Comments

One of the banes of the music writer is when you find music you like, but you just don’t know what to say about it. What’s even worse is when people assume that one of the reasons you’ve said nothing about an artist or album is because you don’t like it. Andy Vaughan and The Driveline‘s first album Long Gone was one of those albums: good, but hard to find words for. Seeing them at The White Horse in Austin, TX earlier this year was not much help either. Only with Searching For The Song have I been able to find the words.

There’s so much music these days vying for everyone’s attention, it is almost imperative that you employ some sort of “bit” to get noticed: a distinctive singing style, a blending of genres, humor, irony, etc. How about just sincerity in craft, and good songwriting? Why can’t that get noticed too? After all, in music these days, that’s pretty rare itself, and those attributes are what Andy Vaughan puts into play in Searching For The Song.

If Andy Vaughn was searching for some great songs for this album, he certainly found them. And if you are searching for great songs, look no further. Take “I Believe In Cowboys” for example, about holding on to the faith and wonder of youth, even as the world pushes its acrimony and bitterness down your throat. The way the song articulates its positivity, and then is structured so perfectly to turn defeatist but doesn’t is a mad stroke of songwriting genius and marvelously-refreshing in such a cynical world. Counterbalancing this is the despondent, but equally-witty song “I Don’t Care”.

Songs like “One More Teardrop”, “Movin’ On”, “Hello Misery”, and “One Good Day” are just good old-fashioned country songs of heartbreak, but this album isn’t all gloom. “Swing That Hammer Down” and “Giggle & A Wiggle” add some lightheartedness and fun to the project, giving Searching For The Song great balance.

And let’s give some props to The Driveline as well, especially steel guitar player Slim Stanton, and Andy’s right hand man and lead guitar player Jerry Renshaw who wrote “Giggle & A Wiggle” and co-wrote “Caught On The Fence” with Andy.

If I had to name a best song, I might go with the aforementioned “I Believe In Cowboys”, or the “Searching For The Song” title track where Andy gets right down to the heart of the matter, and articulates the theme of this album and the underlying issue with artists like him that are struggling in the shadows, chasing a dream that unfortunately is all to unrealistic, yet they can’t stop believing in and pursuing despite knowing better.

The final track “Don’t Tell Me I Ain’t Country” is a good song, it just seemed a little out of Andy’s element (though artists should be afforded a little latitude on a last track). And as much as I want to chagrin music bits, and as much as I like Searching for the Song, I do think that Andy’s music is still “searching” for something that can better help define him and delineate his music from the crowd. But at the same time, that is what’s cool about Searching For The Song, because that is what the theme of this album is about.

With JP Harris, Eric Strickland, and now Andy Vaughan & The Driveline, 2012 has seen a solid crop of no frills, real deal, old school country music albums. If those albums spoke to you, this one will too.

1 1/2 of 2 guns up.

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8 Comments to “Andy Vaughan & The Driveline Are ‘Searching for the Song’”

  • Saw Andy perform a stripped down set with just Slim backing him up and it was great!
    They played a lot of material off this new album and it was definitely the best of the set, especially “I Believe in Cowboys.” And was sitting there thinking, “Man, Triggerman would love this!”

  • Right off the bat, I’ll tell you my comment MAY be slanted.
    I’ve seen Andy Vaughan in every band he’s ever played in, and I enjoyed him. When he decided to go “Country”, I was not real excited to go hear him… BOY, did that change!!! Now, I make every effort to see Andy and the Driveline whenever I can. As a morning man on a top rated country station in Richmond, Virginia in the early 80’s, I witnessed the change in country music that has produced what we hear today. What a refreshing feeling to see and hear that “Good old country” sound again. I’ve seen them polished…in clubs, and RAW…at a Fourth of July backyard Bar-B-Q. Anywhere they take the stage, I am assured that Andy Vaughan HAS found his place. He is a greater performer everytime I see him, and his writing talent is just waiting to make country music what it’s supposed to be.

  • Thanks for the kind words, Triggerman!

    A little note on “Don’t Tell Me I Ain’t Country”: You’re right in that it’s different from the rest of the songs, mostly because it comes from a very different place- that being a pissed-off reaction to something that happened. Early last year when the band was still in its infancy, I sent our info and demo versions of some songs from “Long Gone” to a club that hailed itself as a country music venue. I emailed their talent buyer to folow up and try to talk about booking a gig. His response was, “Just to be clear, we are strictly a country music nightclub, and I don’t think your music really qualifies as country.” Needless to say, this really pissed me off. If you don’t think we’re a good fit for your venue, no problem. If you don’t think the folks that attend your club will be into us, that’s totally fine- I completely understand and that doesn’t bother me in the least. But don’t tell me that what I play isn’t country music! I try really hard to keep my feelings about pop country and the current state of top 40 country radio separate from my music as much as possible, because what I’m doing really has nothing to do with what they’re doing. My music isn’t a reaction to that- it is what it is because that’s what I write and that’s how it comes out. And if someone isn’t into it, that’s cool. So I responded professionally and politely to the guy, but wrote “Don’t Tell Me I Ain’t Country” that night to vent.

    When it came time to choose the songs for the new album, there was a bit of debate about whether or not to include “Don’t Tell Me I Ain’t Country”, because we weren’t sure if it fit with the rest of the songs. But, it’s become our show-closing song, and always gets a really strong response (plus, I really like it myself), so it didn’t seem right to leave it off. However, it was approached completely differently from the rest of the album. Whereas the rest of the sogs were tracked with maximum separation in mind, we did “Country” completely live with no overdubs, and also invited a small audience of our Kickstarter backers to be in the studio to try to capture the same energy it has at our shows. We’re really happy with the way it turned out, but it needed to be the last song on the album with a few extra seconds of space between it and the preceeding track, to help seperate it from the rest of the songs.

    Anyway, just a little info on where it came from!

    • Thanks for the explanation Andy, though I’m not sure it was owed to any of us. Nonetheless I find it very interesting and helps me make the song make sense in context. I like it.

      • No problem- though you might find it interesting, that’s all. I always like hearing about where songs come from. I’m a big Drive By Truckers fan, and I love that on most of their albums, there’s extensive liner notes with a bit of background on each song- what inspired it, where and why it was written, etc. I find it fascinating.

  • I too can vouch for the live shows. I’ve seen em a couple of times. And I can vouch for the first album. Bought it after seeing them the first time. One of my favorite finds last year.

    And I’m looking forward to seeing them again next month and picking up the new album.

    Thanks for the review!

  • Just heard “don’t tell me I ain’t country” on 89.3 FM KNON in Dallas, Texas yesterday. I liked the track and I just bet Waylon might have been smilling down on y’all guys when you cut it.

  • Bumping this topic as the 3rd album Sinners and Saints has downloads released. On the 3rd track and so far good.

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