The Last Tycoon, the moniker ascertained by Atlanta-based singer/songwriter John Gladwin, crafted his latest record Death By Dixie about as far away from the beloved subject matter as one can muster. After packing up from his home state of Arkansas amidst the real estate time bomb that imploded our national economy, moving on to new beginnings a’la Stockholm, Sweden deemed the perfect setting for writing a record based on his Dixie dregs. Be it satirical or arguably semi tongue-in-cheek, Gladwin has voiced his views in the fashion of his heroes and put together a handful of well-crafted folky indie rockers to slay the fascists and ultimately do anything but sugar coat it.
Due out May 19th on Silent Kino records, Death By Dixie called on indelible singer/songwriter/rabble-rouser Jim White and an assortment of Nashville regulars including my favorite sad machine player from across the pond, Spencer Cullum Jr. stretching his calling card pedal steel licks over the five tracks and pulling them together like a laces on a hardball. Death By Dixie is Gladwin’s report on the southern landscape, his taking of the temperature for better or worse, addressing political strife and people strife, the human infrastructure of the south or the lack thereof. The record was built to stir, to provoke your interpretation and not be afraid of what that might be. The fact that you’re thinking about it is a sheepish win for Gladwin alone: game, set, match.
The consciousness of the records stretches well beyond the message, it’s five songs that owes its creation to post production just as much as the recording process itself. That’s where Gladwin, Jim White, and engineer Anderson East took the root recordings of producer Michael Rinne and peppered in the enigmatic soundscape heard within the final mastered recordings. Calling on toys, tools, and whatever else you might could find laying amidst White’s Athens, GA country house. The cacophony of organic layers definitively nails home Gladwin’s initial concept, be it written in Stockholm or another solar system. The songs crafted and immediately torn back apart, beaten on, welded, blown up, and then put back together again in true DIY fashion. The record is worth your purchase on that description alone.
(+Words: Scott Zuppardo+)
(As featured at No Depression 4/9/15)