Sarah Gayle Meech & “One Good Thing” Revitalize Honky Tonk
Lower Broadway in Nashville has a new songstress haunting the streets, and she’s a good one. Sarah Gayle Meech, originally from the sticks of Washington State, showed up in town via LA and is doing what she can to make sure the once epicenter of the underground of country music doesn’t become just a row of corporate bars and crappy music.
If you want to know how to put out one badass independent/underground country album in Nashville, you could use One Good Thing as a template. First you line up the greatest renegade studio owner in town, one Andy Gibson, maybe more famous for being Hank Williams III’s steel and dobro player, but the man who tweaked the knobs on such legendary albums as Hank III’s Straight to Hell, .357 String Band‘s Fire & Hail, and every piece of recorded music Bob Wayne has ever released.
Then you line up the best superpickers in town, namely the superlative “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart, many others), and the legendary Chris Scruggs (BR549, many others). Just with these assets, if underground country were an arms race, Sarah Gayle Meech would have just announced herself a superpower.
But none of these dude’s names are on the cover, and none of them wrote these songs. Sarah and her songwriting are the center of attention here, and with impeccable country taste and instincts, Sarah assembles 12 original and authentic honky-tonk hard country songs for your listening enjoyment.
Don’t let the sleeves of tattoos scare you, this is country and country only. There’s no screams coming out of those red lips, or goat horns concealed under that raven black hair. Sarah Gayle Meech and One Good Thing are country through and through, piercing the breastplate of honky tonk with an adrenaline shot right to its heart.
Lying, cheating, heartache, and one night stands are the colors Sarah swirls together on her palette and then paints on to the canvas with a strong voice and a stellar band. I’ve seen Sarah live (at Muddy Roots) and can vouch One Good Thing isn’t just a product of studio magic, that live the material might even be more engaging, as in many instances honky-tonk-style country is. Sarah has set up residency at Lower Broadway’s famed Bluegrass Inn, and plays Robert’s Western World next door as well. She boasts a professional band and attitude, and her dedication, heart, and willingness to sacrifice to do it right is woven into the fabric of this album.
One Good Thing is a great debut album from Sarah, but what I want to see from here is how she develops and figures out a way to separate herself sonically from the overwhelming crowd of traditional bands and artists playing honky tonk music these days. She’s cut her teeth now, proven her country cred and how the modes and love of true country music coarse through her veins. But all the greats in the genre brought something unique to the table. They added something, or took something away, or reached deep down inside themselves to find a way to separate themselves from the herd.
I won’t say the material and music on One Good Thing is cliche, but the lyrics and licks are common enough that I’m afraid it will sound like “just another traditional country album” to some. This is a common issue for honky tonk artists, even for folks like Dale Watson.
Sarah Gayle Meech gives new blood to old music, and with a bold style and a professional attitude, she should be keeping Lower Broadway true to itself and hopefully expanding to parts beyond in the years to come.
1 1/2 of 2 guns up.
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Sarah at Robert’s on Lower Broadway
October 11, 2012 @ 3:55 pm
It’s really nice to see some positive press on Sarah here at “Saving Country Music”. I used to really enjoy seeing her perform live while she was based here in LA and was saddened to see her pack her bags and go. The same applies to Mike Stinson when he headed on down to Houston, Texas a few years back. At least we now have twangin’ guitar picker Dave Gleason back in our midst after his recent stint of rainbow chasing and hobnobbing with Jim Lauderdale in Nashville. Even LA’s “unique” guy/gal punkikana act “Honeyhoney” recently relocated to Nashville and is impressing the locals far more than seeming happened here in LaLa land! Ross Perot was wrong! That big sucking sound you hear is the country/Americana talent drain from Los Angeles to more musically receptive locales.
Getting back to Sarah, she had released an indie album while here in LA that was quite respectable but did not feature anywhere near the backing band talent mentioned in this article for her debut Nashville album. Sarah has obviously networked with the right people in town and located kindred spirits to surround and support her style of music.
I’m not sure tattoos mix in well with the traditional country audience (I personally cannot stand them), but Sarah’s personality will disarm anyone upon even the most casual meeting. Will Sarah ever be opening shows for Hank III or Marty Stuart, or is she destined to become the Patsy Cline of biker bars? Only The Shadow knows for sure…(lol)
October 11, 2012 @ 4:41 pm
If you are ever in Nashville, swing by and see her on lower broad. hardcore country. Her covers of tammy wynette and loretta lynn are excellent.
October 11, 2012 @ 6:37 pm
I recorded her at the Dan Stephens Memorial Benefit. I’ve seen her, maybe met her, in Layla’s in the past but not while she was playing. When she took the stage at the benefit, she opened her mouth and mine fell open too…I am totally taken with Sarah Gayle Meech. She was also singing Hank Sr. and totally pulled it off…I was very impressed. She gave me her cd and I love it, the video came out awesome too, I just wish it was longer….sweet gal.
Honest Charlie's Productions
October 11, 2012 @ 7:42 pm
hmmm… Im having a hard time buying into this one.. I’m sure she is an awesome gal and all but I don’t know.. With that being said I’m a bit harder on female artists as I try to put them all on the same pedestal as Gina Gallina..
Bigfoot is Real (seriously)
October 12, 2012 @ 7:08 am
I am with Honest Charlie on this one. It’s kinda cookie cutter stuff where no track is all that compelling. Not sure the move to Nashville did her any favors. It would be interesting to hear her live however and see if is the ill advised production that is truly the problem.
October 12, 2012 @ 2:52 pm
I alluded to this a little bit in my review. I think Honky Tonk type country music suffers somewhat in the recorded format. Honky Tonk is meant to be heard in a honky tonk. You take it out of that venue, and you don’t get the same feel. I’ve noticed it with Dale Watson, Whitey Morgan, and others. Love those bands, love their music, but I really don’t listen to their albums much. My favorite Dale album is “Live in London”, probably because it is live. I’m not trying to convince you to like Sarah if you’re not feeling it, just an observation I had before I ever heard this album.
One of the things that made Waylon great is that he was a honky tonker, but in the studio, he cut lots of ballads and songs with stripped down arrangements. We can thank Jack Clement. That is what I was alluding to when I said I think Sarah could benefit from finding a more unique sound.
October 12, 2012 @ 3:11 pm
Some of Waylon’s best songs were ballads, especially “Luckenbach, Texas”. That song is so good that it has inspired other country ballads over the last several decades. Has anyone noticed, for example, the similarities between the melody in Lee Ann Womack’s “I May Hate Myself in the Morning” and the melody in “Luckenbach, Texas”?
Of course, I am a ballad-lover, so my views are slanted in this respect. When I am in a wistful mood, I turn to soft acoustic ballads (especially country ballads), when I am feeling upbeat, I turn to 80’s rock power ballads, and when my emotions are straddling the two, I turn to adult contemporary ballads (mostly 80s and 90s love songs, as well as modern pop country ballads). In my opinion, ballads are the finest form of music.
Honest Charlie's Productions
October 12, 2012 @ 8:02 pm
Yeah I dunno man.. They’re are plenty of Honky Tonk albums that sound just fine to me and have me going back for more. The gal sounds legit no doubt but the sound is just tough to buy in to and I can’t quite pin exactly why. My wife had come walking through a number of times while I was listening to it and she also remarked that she wasn’t getting it. I’d like to see her live.
Honest Charlie's Productions
October 12, 2012 @ 8:03 pm
They’re There… blah.. 🙂
October 13, 2012 @ 9:08 pm
Heard her do this tune, on the Muddy Roots sampler. Got my attention! Looking forward to hearing the album.
October 17, 2012 @ 11:23 am
Sarah is fantastic live. I don’t think the studio captures the spirit and energy she has live. This is a great “debut” album. And yes, being that this album is traditional Honky Tonk, it may seem “limited” for lack of a better word. But she as a talent isn’t. She can sing country, rock, blues… she is a good, solid song writer and performer. And she did open for Hank 3 once at Layla’s which was a great show.
She has a great overall personal energy. Funny but the tattoos never threw me off… she shines so bright in person that I don’t notice them like others may.
Do yourself a favor, go see her live if you can…
October 19, 2012 @ 5:38 am
She is spunky and fun when singing live. Wish I lived closer to Nashville to hear more new artists.