The Raelyn Nelson Band get billed here and there as ‘country garage’, and the cover of Don’t recalls the iconic art of The Clash’s London Calling and also its inspiration, the self-titled debut from Elvis Presley. And with Raelyn Nelson herself being the grand-daughter of Willie Nelson, if you’re in the market for the kind of cowgirl punk made by Maria McKee and Lone Justice, this seems like a likely port of call doesn’t it?
Well yeah, Raelyn and her gang do have a certain raucous, rockabilly-ish charm, combining
|Raelyn Nelson plays heads down, no nonsense, mindless mandolin|
Nelson doesn’t have the kind of intense vocal authority displayed by Maria McKee, mind you. Instead she has a rather winsome voice that makes some of these songs sound like a roughed-up version of The Bangles’ jangle-pop as much as the Dixie Chicks in rambunctious mode. Or maybe Foo Fighters doing ‘Big Me’. No, really!
Which, I should say right away, is absolutely fine by me. However you want to describe it, Don’t is a thirty minute, ten track album on which Nelson and co take an “in - shake it all about - out” approach that’s irreverent, well put together, and quite simply great fun.
‘Pieces’ brings together a slamming riff, shouts of “hey”, some razor-like guitar, and lyrics about “Bloody Mary mornings and nights on the town” – and a key change to boot - to produce a head-shaking, bopping delight. ‘Mama Cry’ combines crunching chords worthy of The Undertones, spot-on harmonies and a neat melody. ‘Everything Falls’ drops down into third gear, with sweeter, spangly guitars and a yearning vocal. The closing ‘Rebel Girl’ opens up as a pounding stomp, with a whiny vocal that’s as discordant as Nelson gets, then adds some scrabbling guitar to conjure up a bit of rock’n’roll that just about justifies the mandolin-smashing cover pic.
If you’re expecting me to tell you about the other tracks, don’t hold your breath. I’ve told you all you need to know already. I like it. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. Don’t may be slight, but it's still a frothing, bubbling adrenaline rush of – hell, call it whatever turns you on, I don't care.