Luke Bell’s “Don’t Mind If I Do”
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hear Ye! All of you Old Farts and Jackasses, all of you neo-traditional non-conformists, all of you street punk scallywags with your greasy hair and tattoos, all of you throwback hipsters who feel like strangers as soon as you walk out the front door into a mad, mad modern world and are unwilling to pay your penances at the alter of pop country, have I got a treat for you.
From the wild lands of Wyoming comes a by-gone man with a by-gone sound traveling under the name Luke Bell. With his dog and his 1995 Buick LeSabre, he comes trekking through the fog of obscurity to sing you some good country songs in the old-fashioned way. This semi-drifting cowboy with no master plan or purpose first got stung by the music bee while living in Wyoming, playing in bars here and there until he found himself heading south to Austin, TX where he fell in with the hard-working honky tonk crowd that drifts back and forth between the Hole in the Wall and the White Horse Saloon in that overcrowded and overserved music metropolis, trying to make a name for himself until he recently decided to take the LeSabre to parts farther east and landed a gig in the house band at the divey Santa’s Pub in the southern part of Nashville.
But the part of this story that most concerns you is that Luke Bell puts together his songs and releases them in albums upon occasion, and one of those such occasions went down on June 3rd when he proffered up Don’t Mind If I Do for public consumption. Apt to be loved by those that find themselves wishing that BR549 would get back together, and have burned many needles out on old dusty Roger Miller records, Don’t Mind If I Do harkens back to a time in country music when it didn’t suck, and hadn’t even started to.
Luke Bell is all peeling paint, and plaid jackets that smell like old men. He won’t wow you with his originality, but his authentic interpretation of classic country sounds and modes is uncanny. This is one of those albums that right after you push play, you find yourself saying, “Yes, this is what I’m talking about.” And despite it all being steeped in the classic country sounds, there’s lots of variety on Don’t Mind If I Do, and just enough of a unique interpretation of the style to not feel tired or done before. “The Glory & The Grace” would made Roger Miller or those old overlords of country trucker songs smile. “Working Man’s Dream” is a darn elbow-swinging hoedown, while “The Great Pretender” has just as much Fats Domino in it as it does Ferlin Husky.
One of the unique and landmark colors of Don’t Mind If I Do is the piano that pops up on many of these songs; such a lost art in country music, often overlooked for its contributions, and essential in certain places for conveying the true mood of a song’s intended sentiment. Though this is most certainly a country record, there’s just that little tinge of boogie woogie, and even jazz in the Leon Redbone sense on some of these tracks. It comes from that early 60’s period when many of those influences bled together in studios.
I was slightly disappointed in the mastering of this album (if there was any) in the respect that it wasn’t loud enough compared to listening to most anything else side by side, though the recording textures and mixing were darn near perfect for the classic mood Bell was looking to capture. A record like this might also have trouble holding your attention for too long, but will always sound fresh when you get back around to it.
Luke Bell and Don’t Mind If I Do prove that no matter what dispersions they may cast under the name of country music, no matter how many cool old buildings they may bulldoze, no matter how many traditions they may burn, and no matter how many times they try to tell you classic country is no longer relevant, it will always remain alive, harbored in the hearts of its six string-toting, singing shepherds, and the crowds that gather to hear them.
1 3/4 of 2 guns up.
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June 28, 2014 @ 8:54 am
Record sounds great!
A little disappointed to see you bemoan mastering for being too quiet, though. There’s nothing worse than a record ruined by a poor mastering that turns the noise up to 11 so you can’t hear the range of sounds.
June 28, 2014 @ 9:10 am
Certainly things can swing the other way and be too loud too, and I’m perfectly willing to give the booger eye to those projects as well. It’s my job as a critic to find things to complain about so you know I’m not just shilling for these artists. Every time I’d listen to this album and then turn on something else, I would get blasted because I had turned this one up. Not a big issue in any way, just an observation, and easy to solve by turning up the volume.
June 28, 2014 @ 9:53 am
Understood, and I definitely don’t mean to all audiophile snob on you. I find a lot of current records difficult to listen to in headphones on normal volume because they are so uniformly loud.
Caitlin Rose’s great record from last year was nearly ruined by this, imho, while Jason Isbell’s benefitted enormously from beautiful mastering with insane dynamics that left his wide range of emotion intact.
June 28, 2014 @ 8:57 am
I thought I’d heard that name before… As an aside, this was from last summer – (hope you don’t mind me posting up a link)
“Luke Bell, a singer and songwriter who is working for the summer at the nearby TE Ranch, said he had seen a grizzly earlier in the season, but not recently.
“But we”™re traveling in twos now,” said Bell, who had heard about the attack and stopped to check with Game and Fish workers to learn more about it.”
Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/man-hospitalized-after-grizzly-attack-near-cody-officials-searching-for/article_12e37fa1-03ec-5164-818a-1e0d9fabef95.html#ixzz35wx4HdsX
Comes from a traditional country music surrounding, after all. I’ll have to give him a good listen. Thanks for reviewing him!
June 28, 2014 @ 9:11 am
June 28, 2014 @ 9:01 am
I like what I’m hearing. Good traditional sound there, going to give the full album a spin and maybe throw it in the rotation to be reviewed on my own blog.
June 28, 2014 @ 9:25 am
In the name of all that is holy …what planet have I landed on ? This stuff is so real it makes me ache . It makes me wanna take a long road trip in a truck with one blown cylinder so it would take me longer to get wherever I’m going . In just three songs I’ve heard a dobro , a harmonica , a pipe organ , yodeling , TWO songs in waltz time and a slap echo on the vocals ! Not ONE of the aforementioned has been heard on “country ” radio since before the flood . Melodies , dance rhythms ,song titles that make sense, actual instruments and a guy who doesn’t sound like anyone but himself and NO FORCED TWANG …..Hold on …I think I’m going into cardiac arrest, I’m so excited .
( Btw Trigger , you’ve outdone yourself with that entertaining review …3 thumbs up )
June 28, 2014 @ 9:46 am
There you go again, Trigger. You have no idea just how much you and this site have restored my faith in Country Music. I’ve been listening to this for over an hour, and LOVING it!! Thanks for bringing me another great Country Music artist!
June 28, 2014 @ 11:02 am
Way to go, Luke.
June 28, 2014 @ 11:52 am
The little bit I have listened to the stream, I like it. Parts of it I think of Hank Williams. Good, Real, Country music!
June 28, 2014 @ 12:05 pm
This is so damn good and yep THIS is what I’m talking about.
June 28, 2014 @ 12:41 pm
Great stuff! He doesn’t seem to utilize the Facebook/twitter outlets for his music and show awareness, so I will have to make a conscious effort to check his site from time to time.
June 28, 2014 @ 3:37 pm
Fantastic stuff. Thanks for featuring this one! That’s me spending some more money!!
June 28, 2014 @ 4:46 pm
Thanks for the review. Really enjoyed this one!
June 28, 2014 @ 6:45 pm
Awesome stuff, Trigger! Thanks for sharing! =D
I regret that I don’t actively comment on the good stuff here quite as much as actively dissecting the worse and, in retrospect, I recognize I need to strive to actively do my part more to bellow the clarion call of authenticity all around. So I’m changing that now! =)
If I had to choose a favorite, I’d say “Don’t Mind If I Do”. While listening to that, I could visualize myself standing out in the sage brush of the Naches Valley of central Washington in mid-September; when the last heat wave of the year usually transpires and you have that mixed feeling of saudade mixed with gratitude. It just sounded like a nice lazy Indian summer kind of song.
I also really dig the shuffle of “Cold Stew” and the driving waltz of “I’m Not” most notably. The opening percussion salvo of “Glory and the Grace” was neat too; as if it was straight from a rehearsal or casual jam session but still sounds so fresh and authentic you feel right at home. I also agree the use of piano and harmonica feels like being reacquainted with a long lost friend! Especially on “Rattlesnake Man” (which leans blues) =)
I’m going to have to listen more attentively to decipher some of the lyrics. All that wordplay on 8-ball in the second verse of “Glory and the Grace” really jumped out at me, for one. I also feel there’s more going on in “The Great Pretender” than what a surface understanding of the listen suggests.
I agree with the review. A true throwback-sounding gem! =D
June 28, 2014 @ 6:49 pm
Nice to know there are people still making that classic sound. “Glory and the Grace” especially made me smile. 😀
June 28, 2014 @ 7:52 pm
Thanks Trigger bought it last night haven’t stopped listening, trigger your always finding the gems
June 29, 2014 @ 1:11 am
A couple songs in and I am already in love. Will be buying this next paycheck. Great find.
June 29, 2014 @ 5:19 am
Purchased this morning from iTunes. Bargain at $9.99
June 29, 2014 @ 11:14 am
THIS is why I check SCM site 2-3 times a day – Trig’s reviews of artists I’d never be exposed to any other music medium. Last year in was Eric Strickland, the year before JP Harris. Add Luke Bell to that list.
Tom the Polack
June 29, 2014 @ 1:32 pm
June 29, 2014 @ 1:54 pm
I know Luke’s Mom and Dad. I’ve know his mother since age 15. This is a GREAT record! I used to live in Wyoming and this is a great representation of where he lives. I love the fact that this is REAL COUNTRY.
June 29, 2014 @ 10:21 pm
no phyisical copies? man…
it is dope though.
June 30, 2014 @ 8:19 am
Amazon says they’re stocking physical CD’s but they’re out-of-stock (just added link above). We may have caused a run on them.
June 30, 2014 @ 5:55 am
Amazon for physical copies folks.
June 30, 2014 @ 9:14 am
Luke is legit.
I listened to the entire album this morning and IT JUST FEELS GOOD.
Check out this video –
“An extremely professional high budget film crew came out to record Luke Bell on his porch in the mountains of Cody Wyoming after he finished irrigating.”
June 30, 2014 @ 6:52 pm
Just bought the mp3 album. Awesome album, recommended to any frequent visitors to this website to buy it. Thanks Trigger for helping me find another great country album!
July 1, 2014 @ 10:15 am
Love it! Blends the best elements of Roger Miller, Merle, and Dale Watson
Saving Country Music Review of “Don’t Mind if I Do” |
July 6, 2014 @ 5:15 pm
[…] Find this review HERE […]
July 8, 2014 @ 5:20 am
Incredibly late responding to this review but I’m really, really digging this. Enough that 10 bucks on iTunes is a small price to pay.
Hope it makes, or is at least a runner up, your year-end best of albums list.
July 22, 2014 @ 11:28 pm
The music service I use does not have this new album, but did have his self-titled debut album. It’s amazing. I enjoyed every track. If not the entire album, everyone should download “Juarez”. One of the best songs I’ve heard in a long time.
January 14, 2020 @ 8:53 pm
Hello , any chance I could buy a copy of this album from you?
Musical Entertainment Weekend — Cody
August 22, 2014 @ 9:49 am
[…] if I Do. Â Read an article from theÂ Cody EnterpriseÂ about one of Cody’s talented young men. Savingcountrymusic.com has some good things to say about Luke too! Free […]