As music fans, we spend a lot of time trying to categorize bands and music. Sometimes it’s just best to avoid categorization and recognize a band or an artist as simply a good songwriter. Such is the case on the genre-defying Arguably OK by TK and The Holy Know Nothings.
One sign of a good songwriter is when the lyrics surprise you. In “Emmanuel” when you hear the line “When I wake up, I don’t wake up until I crawl inside a coffee cup,” you think Taylor Kingman is singing about an average morning for a lot of people. It’s the second half of the line “full of speed, and powdered drugs, and coffee” that surprises you. As the song progresses, you realize that the narrator admits to some chemical dependency while lamenting that he’s not one of those people for whom life is as easy “just pressing the gas and going.”
There is a gritty reality to Kingman’s lyrics. In the slow honky-tonk song, “The Devil’s Point,” he sings about being drunk and still drinking cheap beer and bourbon while he watches women work the pole. The theme would be sad enough, but it’s made even sadder by the pedal steel by Lewi Longmire and the spare beat by Tyler Thompson. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, this is not the song. It is profoundly sad, but it is also beautifully done.
It’s hard not to think about Kevn Kinney of Drivin n Cryin when you hear the raspy, reedy vocals in “Tunnel of a Dream.” There is also something similar to Some Girls-era Rolling Stones in the harmonica by Jay Cobb Anderson and the beat.
“Dejavudu” is another song that goes easy on the tempo. The space between the notes gives the song something of a Bakersfield sound. Even the introduction of a horn doesn’t provide any real brightness to the song. Still, it would be a good song for two people to dance to on an old hardwood floor in a mostly-empty bar at the end of the night.
This is an album based in country, but it doesn’t really fit any mold. There are some psychedelic sounds and some lyrics (“I was sleeping on the ceiling with a girl that couldn’t cry” in “Hard Times”) that sound like they could have been written by Bob Dylan. While it’s not necessarily uplifting, this album is well done, and it will have you singing along in parts. Arguably OK (Mama Bird Recording Company) will be available everywhere on May 24. Order your copy here (http://www.mamabirdrecordingco.com/tk-and-the-holy-know-nothings).