There are worse things to have developed over the years than alt-country. This may not sound like resounding praise for a developing style of music. For those of us who are not fans country and songs that make us think of cowboy hats, giant belt buckles and people who refer to the US as “Merica,” alt-country is a breath of fresh air from mainstream country music, a genre that has become a shell of its former self.
Dolorean’s release, The Unfazed brings back memories of what country used to be: bands playing in smoky bars, “Hard Working Dogs,” country landscapes, and songs about fighting and leaving. These themes are set up by Al James’ pensive, sometimes twangy vocals and backed up by gently strummed guitar chords and light drum strokes. Everything is punctuated by violins, piano and slide guitar to draw out every last emotion from each song. Even optimism is given a new voice in “These Slopes Give Me Hope.”
The common element in all ten tracks of The Unfazed is mellowness. Everything has a mellifluous sound that leaves the listener with a thousand yard stare. The songs deal with hardships at times, but the listener’s stare is not of reliving some horror through the music but commiserating with James’ poetic narrative.
In “Country Clutter,” he gives a voice to those who have moved out of a relationship with a significant other who seems to have no purpose in life other than to pick fights with us. The desire to leave is so great that when you move out and pack up your things, you want to tell the other person “if you find anything I left behind, well you can have it, let it clutter up your life, the way you cluttered up mine.”
Dolorean has the ability to create a relaxed, alt-country sound that you will not be bored by. Each track is too emotionally charged to ever become detached from the listening experience. Each arrangement has a way of sucking its audience in. Each song is honest enough to never feel affected or contrived.
And each person should really sit down and give Dolorean a listen, whether you are a fan of country or not.