Since its creation in the early to mid – 1970s with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and a bevy of others, outlaw country and its more recent sub genre descendant alt-country, have always been about eschewing the formulaic tendencies of country music and about telling stories and doing your music your own way. With his new album Smile When You’re Wasted singer-songwriter Marc Miner establishes himself as an artist that is brilliantly capable of straddling both such sub genres in an altogether affecting, exciting, and original manner.
With the eleven songs on this album the raspy voiced and charismatic singer creates an attitude soaked sonic landscape that draws upon the musical influences of rockabilly, blues, southern rock, and classic country to deliver tunes that lyrically treat the subject matter of sex, drugs, booze, and the hard living of a musician on the road in a manner that not only conjures up Nelson and Jennings but their compatriots Jerry Jeff Walker and Hank Williams Jr. as well.
While all of the songs contribute superbly to the atmospheric nature of the record, particular highlights include the supercharged honky tonk smoker “Border Town Bar,” the quarantine influenced “Easy Street,” the pedal steel driven instant singalong “Everything But Modest,” the seductive and passionate “Strip You Down,” and the confessional and anthemic “Nothing Good ‘Bout The Way I Live.”
It is my belief that the two vibrant sub genres of outlaw country and alt-country still exist today precisely because of the undeniable need to help give artists like Miner the artistic freedom to create and present their music in whatever manner they see fit. Country music can’t ever allow itself to become totally predictable in sound and subject matter and expect to continue to thrive as a musical genre. That is precisely what Willie, Waylon, Jerry Jeff, Hank Jr, and all of the others were rebelling against in the first place.
For his part and in my estimation, with Smile When You’re Wasted, Miner has not only kept that spirit alive but has also given us a 21 century classic of both of the sub genres as well.
Smile While You’re Wasted by Marc Miner is available on his website .
Credits: Marc Miner – vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, Martin L.A. Dickinson – drums, background-vocals, Marcus McMill – bass, background-vocals Mike Eggard – electric guitar, background-vocals, Dominik Kostal – background-vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, percussion,organ, Steve Burdette – Hammond B3 organ, Pat Lyons – pedal steel, electric guitar, banjo, John Grill – electric guitar, Jimi Dolezal – electric guitar, Jesse Keith – background-vocals, Music: Marc Miner, lyrics: Marc Miner, except track #7: Justyna Paniec & Marc Miner, All tracks mixed and mastered by Dominik Kostal.