With a name like Scotland Barr & the Slow Drags, an album titled Legionnaires Disease and a promotional note touting alt-country from Portland, Ore. I thought, "What's not to like?"
Listening to the CD, I found it all to my liking. This album opens with the title track, featuring a lonesome pedal steel riff. After an impressive instrumental opening, Barr's gravelly voice joins the mix.
The mix of warm instruments with worn vocals is an alt-country standard. I could tell right away that Scotland Barr has that formula down pat. However, you need more than a gruff-voiced lead singer and quality instrumentals to make truly great music.
Barr's lyrics show that he's a songwriter wise beyond his years. "Bruised Tattoo" starts with the lines, "I've got knots on the floor / Beneath the knots in my back / I'll work 'til I'm 60 / I'll die of a heart attack."
In "A Woman's Way" Barr laments lost love: "I guess she left me a year ago / Here I am just finding out today / Well I never heard her leaving / But she always had a soft and gentle way."
Behind the lyrics, the Slow Drags superbly blend their instruments and harmony vocals into memorable tunes. What's not to like? I say nothing.