“Geronimo” – Shane Smith and the Saints (2015) [english]

Lately I’ve been thinking about what the new classics of American music might be. What records could be real sources of inspiration for the coming generations of musicians and fans. Milestones that must never be forgotten and must be duly celebrated. Today the real revolution, in my opinion, in American music is led by the artists who have decided to turn their backs on the big labels and the music business of radio and TV and do it alone. Obviously helped by small independent record companies and producers “with balls”. A revolution that embraces country, rock, folk and blues in a wave that, thanks to this super connected world, has overwhelmed the ears of millions of fans throughout the United States and now even on this side of the ocean. This revolution has as putative fathers of course the references of the past : Waylon Jennings, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels to name a few, but today the references are being updated and new names become in turn inspiration. I don’t want to invest the band I’m telling you about excessive responsibility, these guys from Austin, Texas are young and will have time to continue their journey, but when you have a record of such musical beauty and poetic, you can not shut up. You can’t just say “what a nice record”. No these guys have created their “Honky Tonk Heroes”, the record from which many will be able to start and inspire, an original sound, a long work (15 pieces for almost 1 hour of music) but in no minute of this disc you will want to stop listening. I don’t exaggerate, I have listened and listened to this record so many times, that the knowledge that so many fans of rock and country but also only of American music, does not know them really makes me crazy. There are bands celebrated by the mainstream, who have never even created a tenth of the beauty of a single piece of this record. Shane Smith and the Saints are now on their third record plus a wonderful live recording live from the desert near the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas. They have matured, improved and live remain one of the hottest acts in the States but when they released in 2015 this Geronimo reached, in my opinion, perfection, the moment when with the stars aligned, the music flowed as driven by magic. The band was composed of Bennett Brown on fiddle, Chase Satterwhite on bass, Timothy Allen on guitars, and Bryan McGrath on drums. Today some members have changed but the quality is the same. Trust me. What’s more, the cover is of dazzling beauty. An auditory and visual masterpiece. The album starts with a piece that immediately conquers the ears and the feeling of being in front of a band with unique talent will not leave us anymore. The Mountain begins with just Shane Smith’s beautiful voice and a choir a cappella but then the piece also explodes thanks to the brilliant fiddle work of Bennett Brown. A country-folk song but with an energy that comes from blues rock. A mix of influences that gives the speakers an original sound and a crazy intensity. The text is a true poem of real life, the coal mines and its tragedies. Beautiful also the ending that resumes the initial chorus, melancholy energy. There is no room to savor the first, which already begins the second, All I See Is You. The fiddle that intertwines the guitars, the rhythmic tightness that no longer gives you up to explode in a solo to leave you breathless. All seasoned with a beautiful love poem. And we are only on the second piece. Oil Town starts with a beautiful and very folk sound of harmonica and acoustic guitar, but it’s Shane’s voice that gets inside you and accompanies you in this Texas story. A Springsteen-flavored piece of good time I mean obviously. New Orleans is a hymn to the music of Crescent City, the story of a freed slave who wants to go to the city where Sunday at the Congo Square the rhythm never dies. A sunny piece full of rhythm, where as usual the violin accompanies the dances. At the time of the release of this album, the “wise guys” catalogued them as a clone of the Mumford & Sons. Here is the depth of the sound and musical vision of this record would have deserved more consideration. The sound and its inspirations may be vaguely similar, but the analogies stop here. The country ballad, full of whiskey and melancholy, could not miss in a Texas Music record and here’s Whiskey & Water. Acoustic but full of character, it is a poem about temptations, a poem that tastes like the old west, of saloons and rides at sunset. The fight against demons continues in Right Side of the Ground and Smith’s voice excites, intense and evocative, while the violin enters like a knife in the wound. A performance of the singer really exceptional, a piece seemingly musically simple but a powerful poetic force and hardly forgettable. Faced and defeated the demons, in the country rock ride of I Can Hear Him Now, where the violin paints notes and the rhythm is perfect to drive the song at two speeds, rock and folk, country and blues. He closed the devil behind the cellar door but he can hear it and we hear a band bordering on perfection. Suzannah is a rock poetry wrapped in Texas country, fast exciting and with a story that looks vivid to our eyes, first-rate narrative skills like the great songwriters of the past. Skill that appears in all its splendor even in the next Crockett’s Prayer, where the story becomes the protagonist, the history of Texas and this piece of country folk narrated by the beautiful voice of Shane Smith becomes almost a proud anthem of his own land, to the heroes who created this beautiful and proud state. Texas that is always the protagonist, a constant inspiration, a loved place to return to after all the travels of life, so Lord Bury Me In Texas becomes a declaration of love for a land that is more than a state : it is home. The piece is melancholy at the right point but never sad, the intertwining of dobro, violin and electric guitar is pure magic. Gorgeous. But it’s with the next one that, in my opinion, the band reaches the climax of this wonderful record. Born & Raised is a two-part ballad sung by the talented Haley Cole. An almost perfect, intense and exciting piece. A declaration of love of a man and a woman, so similar in having lived in Texas families so similar, pride and love for their origins, customs and stories that are told. I confess that this piece, while listening to the record, I repeat it several times. I never get enough. And I get excited every time. Also When All is Lost is an intense and exciting ballad and also here the voice of Shane Smith gives an intense and moving performance. A slow piece but never melenso or banal. Runaway Train is the umpteenth folk poetry that the fiddle and the rhythmic drag in a splendid and sunny country ride. Another love poem but this time it is a love that the author hopes can follow him in the moving train that will be his journey, his life around the world for music. What a Shame is another exciting piece, the voice speaks to us of the search for a life that is worth, something different from the material life and the money of success and as usual the uvula of Shane Smith takes the proscenium and together with a pressing rhythmic, give another wonderful piece, embellished by an arrangement of the best class. The album ends with the title-track and if you think the best is over, here you are wrong. Geronimo is a beautiful song, intense and never banal. Another arrangement with a shimmering beauty, a poem supported by the usual rhythmic beating and duet voice and violin to take your breath away. A piece with an ancient flavor, a dedication to the great Apache leader who has a double value in the intentions of the band : tribute to a great man but also a promise that the group despite the difficulties will continue to pursue their dream and move forward. The ending with the crescendo of the fiddle and the subsequent solo are pure art. Beautiful. Worthy final of a great record. A record that according to the writer is worthy of entering the ranks of the new classics of American popular music, a band still underestimated that deserves to be with the new greats like Cody Jinks, Whiskey Myers, Steel Woods or Chris Stapleton. No ifs and buts. Lately they have received the deserved attention thanks to Taylor Sheridan who, with his TV series Yellowstone (beautiful modern western with Kevin Costner), has inserted in these years in the soundtrack many independent artists and in the last season they too (season still unpublished in Italy, ed). Basically doing the job that radios are supposed to do, but that’s another story. Texas, which has always been home to great music, can undoubtedly add to its ideal Hall of Fame, also this Geronimo. The band, on the other hand, after this record, didn’t let their guard down, on the contrary they released another wonderful record ( that I reviewed here after having just discovered them : https://trexroads.altervista.org/hail-mary-shane-smith-the-saints-2019/ ) end recently, as I told you, also a beautiful live live live from the Texas desert. And trust me after a record like this, it is not for everyone not to get lost and continue to be true to themselves and original. Congratulations to these guys from Austin, Texas, they really deserve it. They used to be one of the best-kept secrets in Texas, but now they deserve to be in every quality music playlist that’s worthy of respect.

Good listening,

Trex Willer by http://www.magazzininesistenti.it

you can find original italian article at this link : http://www.magazzininesistenti.it/shane-smith-the-saints-geronimo-2015-di-claudio-trezzani/ )