CD review: An Idaho Dozen, by The Country Club

May 16, 2014 

AN IDAHO DOZEN

The Country Club

***

With a proclivity for name dropping the Gem State and a liner-note thanks for "supporting your local live music scene," The Country Club harbors few ambitions beyond the nearest watering hole gig.

So pull up a chair right next to the stage; these dudes can play. Led by the homey voice of frontman Jonah Shue, traditionally influenced country-western tunes alternately speed along, revel in balladry, or even take a left turn to rock out ("She Was Epic"). Nestled between the caress of fiddle or pedal steel, Shue's vocals exude a distinct honesty, like a church-choir family man who doubles as a band leader at the weekend juke joint.

The quartet, which also includes guitarist Dave Manion, drummer Ben Brault and upright bassist Bill Parsons, takes breaks for snappy instrumental exchanges, elevating straightforward, lighthearted ditties to greater heights. The jams are slick on "High Falutin' Newton," a swinging tune that sounds torn from the sheet music of Shue's other band, the Frim Fram 4. It humorously chronicles a cowboy who rounds up cattle "on a $5 horse and a $50 saddle."

The Country Club occasionally tackles serious subject matter, too; check out the chicken-pickin'-quick tale of farmers' struggles, "The Great Cornspiracy."

By the time you've come to the end of this Idaho dozen - a bopping cover of "Shine, Shave, Shower (It's Saturday)" - it's clear: The Country Club treasures its timeless place in the bar-band lifestyle. As Lefty Frizell's lyrics explain, folks get dressed up, they hit the town, they flirt, they dance. Like so many musicians before them, The Country Club's members inspire these social rituals with a few hot licks. The circle - and this fun little album - is complete.

Michael Deeds

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