The third and latest album from Richmond, VA’s own, Andy Vaughan & The Driveline, Sinners and Saints, was released on July 5, 2014; and let me say - this album has grown on me. If you’re unfamiliar, as I was, Vaughan and The Driveline are straight up classic country of the 60’s and 70’s variety; a welcome voice crying in the proverbial wilderness of modern country music.
Sinners and Saints is 11 tracks of 70’s era country- rock, exploring the personal complexities that lie between good and bad -- specifically, good people who find themselves occasionally doing bad things and the consequences they’re left with-- something we all, no doubt, can relate to.
Andy flows seamlessly through verse and course with enough country twang to remind you where he came from, while The Driveline lays down some strong backing with plenty of dueling fills from lead guitarist Ray Fralin and pedal steel wizard Slim Stanton. Drummer, Chip Farnsworth, and bassist, Erik Kutzler, hold it down with some solid and engaging toe-tapping, head-bobbing rhythm that forces you to feel what’s going on.
The title track, “Sinners and Saints”, is all about the gray area between right and wrong, and how “we all live somewhere in between what we’ve done right and what we regret”.
This is one of my favorites off the album. It starts off with a slow, honky tonk feel, opening right from the start with dominant pedal steel, and then opens up into an uptempo, Bakersfield style swing. The guitar work from both lead and pedal steel is tight, with Fralin and Stanton playing off of each other for the two solos in the song. It makes for a real good time.
“Hole He Left Behind” is a great storytelling song about a woman done wrong who can’t get past the man who wronged her; and her surprising solution to the problem. This is another quickstepping tune with some incredible and well placed pedal steel fills and lead guitar picking that are sure to satisfy any guitar fan. I would say that one of the standouts of this album, and this lineup, is the pure musicianship and ability to allow the players and instruments to come forward while meshing it all together into music that is genuinely satisfying and hard to turn off.
“One To Blame” is a poignant tale of a man newly released from a 15 year prison sentence trying to put his life back together, yet shunned by his family and society. He’s in the unique position of wanting to belong, but knowing that by his own doing, he never can again. This is some good songwriting, as it causes empathy for the protagonist, but acceptance of consequence. Vaughan’s voice stands out with urgency in the chorus, and true to form, the pedal steel and lead accompaniment back him up to make this sad and hopeless song hit home.
Andy Vaughan & The Driveline are on tour right now in support of Sinners and Saints. Check out their website at the link below for dates, and do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. Mr. Vaughan & The Driveline most definitely are country.
+Words: Eric Chasko+
+Words: Eric Chasko+