Whether a young soldier, a ginerbread man, a teenage lover trying to break free, a hard drinker or a hangman in the old west, all roads lead to the eye of the storm where our music is made. If that leaves us a shadow in the wind or a shade in the flame, so be it. We play our own song cuz it's a short life.
WWW.ROOTSTIME.BE – "It’s a Short Life is honest and, after a bit of acclimation, is repeatedly magnificent…" – Antoine Legat (Dutch to English, OneHour Translate), February 10, 2013
"It's a Short Life". They sure were right about that, those four gentlemen from The Border Band, but it made for an extremely long CD, bordering 75 minutes: not much more can fit on a CD. It's been a good while since they've put anything out after "Rootless Seed" (2001), "Magdalene" (2003), and the double CD "Hard West" (2005). We had a good time with "It's a Short Life", listening to it over and over again. It should be no surprise why: there is a plethora of variation in the material presented that exploits a recognizable sound to invoke a pronounced sense of unity. There is more however. They are drowning in experience. The quartet roamed around all that time, and even still today, as a pack of young wolves that don't bog themselves down with all the rules and red tape slapped on by managers and producers and merely sing as they were meant to sing. They don't set out to lure in an audience, but rather play what they enjoy playing, how they want to play it, all while being fully aware of what they can and cannot do.
If that isn't refreshing in a time where albums are polished perfection, where every break is played exactly by the book, I don't know what is. That spermicidal legislation is just the opposite of what Rock-n-Roll needs to be, i.e. healthy anarchy. That the outcome fails to communicate that so strongly sometimes doesn't change a thing. The bottom line is positive. In addition, the lyrics seem to tell their own story more than once, like in the opener "A Long, Long Way", a proud ode to the homeland on the right side of patriotism, given it crosses everyone's mind, yet is directed towards no one; and the Vietnam story "Bad Seed" plucked clearly from personal experience, which you can see as an antidote for Stan Ridgway's dubious "Camouflage".
As for the composition of the band, Melvin Litton, the engine that drives The Border Band, is more or less a stray cat that took off from Kansas and eventually ended up there again. He plays rhythm guitar, wrote almost all the songs, mostly by himself, and he sings the lead up an octave. Roger Holden just sticks with lead guitar, but he, of course, plays an important role in the band's history. Dave Melody plays the drums, but also sings in about five songs. The group has wrestled for years with a "bassist problem", so to speak. About eight of them withered up and burnt out before Daniel Weaverling came knocking at the door a few years ago. Although he was much younger than the others, he seemed to be our white blackbird. Since he also has a great singing voice, he does some vocals on five songs. In total, that should tally up to eighteen songs, but there is one song that the three leads sing, namely the traditional rendition of "Go Down Ol' Hanna" where the tempo picks up suddenly a third of the way through.
If they hit the gas pedal, then you get a rugged set of rockers like "Gingerbread Man" or the title track. But they can also branch into a world of melancholy, like in "Another Cold, Cold Beer", which was actually a tear jerker of a song, that cavorts harmoniously between sincere emotion and sentimentality (our Guido Belcanto also walks that line with so much finesse!). Even "Because of You" with Litton on the ... bell has that folky feeling, i.e. a song to play in the late hours of the community ball. We couldn't dream of any producer laying his hands on any of it to make it "better" so to speak! The realities of the working man, who has to slave his face off to get by, gets its own special voice in "Bottom of the Mine". "There Liz a Diamond" falls somewhere between Bob Dylan, The Band, and Bruce Springsteen in its own reserved kind-of way, influences that Litton surely can identify with.
And once everything comes together, then you get one kick ass song like "Down by the River". So no, you can't be mad at The Border Band. The older generation of music fans will already know this. For the younger chaps, just put that into a text message. "It's a Short Life" is "honest" and, after a bit of acclimation, is repeatedly "magnificent".
VILLAGE RECORDS www.villagerecords.org – “Another alt-country classic…”
Nov. 30, 2011 IT'S A SHORT LIFE Artist: THE BORDER BAND [N1112114]
This group has the perfect name. Their music straddles all aspects of Americana and the forefathers of the genre. Albums like this are not meant for radio programmers and focus groups. It is meant for drivers of rust colored pick-up trucks that have old mangled chrome bumpers, and past their prime cars with big engines. You'll find these parked outside of end of the trail roadhouses, not Starbucks. For this all new recording they don't get above their raising and deliver another alt-country classic.
ROOTHOG RADIO www.roothotradio.com -- “Kinda like listening to a Johnny Cash the first time around…” Posted on November 2, 2011 by L.H. O'Connor
I was tickled to see pictures of the Border Band and realize they're not all nineteen and this is not their first record. Maybe it's because my bridge is out, I need to slaughter a bunch of chickens and it's a snowy, Sunday morning but I'm in the mood for some music from someone who's actually lived a little. Someone who might actually have something genuinely sad and lonesome to sing about, in that respect, It's A Short Life by The Border Band did not disappoint.
It's A Short Life's title track starts off sounding like a barfighting song but winds up as an almost Springsteenesque account of a man's life. The first time I listened to it, it really rubbed me the wrong way. Something tugged at me to listen again, though, a few days later and it was actually worth it.
So, be warned. This is not a driving in the truck cd. (Unless you've heard it a million times and know all the words by heart.) This is one to sit down and actually listen to. If you're in a hurry, put it aside til you have a
moment to really pay attention.
A Long, Long Way is a pro diversity anthem. Another Cold, Cold Beer is very appropriate for this season (and for anyone trying to dry up). My favorite line: The scarecrow still stands there though he's a longtime been dead.
Overall, I had mixed feelings about this album. There were parts I didn't like, but I have a sneaking suspicion it might grow on me. Kinda like listening to a Johnny Cash the first time around.
Goes Good With: Jimmy Rodgers, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Random Fact: They've had as many bass players "as a spider has legs."