Today independent country is impossible to ignore. It’s such an important movement in the United States that some artists are now being courted by big radios and record companies.
Just think of people like Cody Jinks, perhaps the one who in recent years has broken the banks of this river in flood, which fills arenas from 50,000 people producing itself.
These artists were helped to reach, for example, the homes of fans distant thousands of kilometers even from streaming services and the network.
Digital word of mouth was crucial. It’s true that these notorious streaming services pay a real misery musicians and certainly do not make up the biggest revenue, but they certainly helped, if they did.
Incidentally, the best way to help these artists is, since we can’t go to their concerts on this side of the Ocean, to buy merchandising from their official websites. One of them told me that buying a t-shirt is worth as hundreds of thousands of streams or likes.
But I can’t deny that I thank God for the various Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora: without them my favorite music probably would not have reached me so easily.
This long preamble I did to introduce a character who played independent niche music in the years when certain services did not yet exist and on Facebook groups of fans were a few dozen.
Slackeye Slim, born Joe Frankland, in 2011 released a record that even today professionals and fans of underground music, consider one of the most beautiful and impactful of western country music: El Santo Grial: La Pistola Piadosa.
It was not an easy album to listen to, but it left an indelible mark in the ears of those who had the good fortune in those years, to listen to it, to taste the stories told by a voice that could not be ignored.
It’s hard to put it into context, in the sense that today there are artists like the legendary Colter Wall who have cleared western music and play it in festivals where thousands and thousands of fans flock.
Slackeye Slim had recorded this record when no one ever dreamed of bringing the true stories of the cowboys to music, regardless of the fact that the songs were not “radio” and were not to be danced on some stage.
Like Cody Jinks, Joe Frankland also comes from a passion for punk and metal music, which he then supplanted with a visceral love for country, having also worked as a radio DJ for a classic country radio.
Born in Ohio, he also lived in Montana, enjoying the harsh, hard and difficult life of cowboys who will become the protagonists of his stories on the two records that opened his discography.
Slackeye Slim, you understand, is not a common character who makes normal decisions and, when he was on the launch pad of success after the 2011 album, he decides to take weapons and luggage and move to a ranch in western Colorado, in the remote county of Montezuma.
Here he takes the license of snowcat pilot, wanders in the canyons in search of ancient abandoned pueblos and, after another record in 2015, gets to record this beautiful, original and unique Scorched Earth, Black Earth.
He builds his instruments and completed this record in a studio powered only by solar energy in the desert of southwest Colorado: you understand that I could not ignore this story!!!
To explain this record I won’t tell you about his songs, it would be trying to tell a book telling you the highlights and ruining the surprise.
That’s why I’ve been more focused on talking to you about a one-of-a-kind artist, out of time, and damn brilliant. If I wanted to try to give you an idea of what kind of artist he is, here I could compare him to the way he sings and tells about Nick Cave and Tom Waits, while riding in a remote snowy canyon of Colorado.
Slackeye Slim had told fictional stories on previous albums, while in these 11 pieces the artist tells himself by delving into his most painful memories, suffering and abuse.
There is music and the way of using drums and percussion that vaguely recall the ideas of Ennio Morricone, there is the Mexican flavor, there are stories and those strike loudly.
I told you that it’s hard to mention some songs in spite of others, but to get an idea of this record just press play and listen to the almost gothic and gloomy western of Everything Follow This.
He won’t listen easily, but it will be worth it.
My favorite is Crooked Teeth with that tex-mex flavor, I imagine the soundtrack of a trip between ancient pueblos of Mexico and that use of percussion, as I said, is Morricone-style without a doubt.
The poignant western ballad Old Farmhouse tells of his father’s experiences of abuse and is so intense that it could easily be a novel or a film.
Well, his music making is the most cinematic I’ve heard in recent years.
There is the banjo that takes us back to the bluegrass of his native Ohio, as in I Took You Up In The Mountain, a beautiful piece with a perfect arrangement.
A brilliant record, dry and heartbreaking. A journey through the stories of cowboys stripped of that epic aura to which we are accustomed and that makes them so true that we can almost touch them and feel that they take our soul.
If you think that the inspirations are autobiographical, you will understand the depth of these stories and the difficulty that the artist had in putting them on record with a disarming sincerity.
It’s not an easy album, one of those that amuses and relaxes us, but if you look for the western version of the great American folkmen, Slackeye Slim is the man for you.
Meanwhile, he left for the Colorado desert where his ranch awaits him, miles from the cult that many fans have for an original artist and never banal.
Trex Willer by http://www.ticinonotizie.it
(in Ticino Notizie web site you can find original italian version of this article)