Kevn Kinney : A Good Country Mile

Kevn Kinney has a unique knack for drawing talented musicians to accompany him on his albums; it’s an almost magnetic attraction. Whether it is REM’s Peter Buck or Gov’t Mule and Allman Brothers alum Warren Haynes, Kinney is never short of help and inspiration for his projects. It also gives him the opportunity to approach his music from different angles, though he typically stays true to his folk, country, and Southern rock roots. On A Good Country Mile Kinney teams up with old friend and producer Anton Fier and his band, The Golden Palominos. Those two originally collaborated back in 1987 when Fier produced Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s sophomore album Whisper Tames The Lion, and on A Good Country Mile Kinney’s thoughtful songwriting and playing is complimented by skilled-but-not-intrusive work of Fier on drums, Tony Scherr on guitar, and Andy Hess on bass.

The classification of music as “Southern rock” is overused and abused by critics who stereotype musicians south of the Mason-Dixon; however, one can’t help but think of that genre when the album opens with a cover of the Drive-By Truckers song “Never Gonna Change” and it’s references to the strong people of south Alabama. While the folk and rock references are certainly present throughout the album, the strongest element much like its title implies is country. The title track is a long and thoughtful ballad wrapped in historical perspective and told from a first person point of view. Likewise the final track on the album, “Southwestern State,” is a Seven Mary Three cover that serves as further reinforcement for the country sensibility of the album.

But while the album does lean towards the country end of the spectrum, there are plenty of nuggets throughout that show the range and depth of Kinney and The Golden Palominos.  I have not been following Kinney’s recent work very closely, and my main frame of reference is old Mystery Road-era Drivin’ N’ Cryin’.  I was equally surprised and pleased to hear a reprise of a rocking song from that album “Wild Dog Moon Part 2.”  The longest and perhaps most musically complex song on the album, “Bird” clocks in at nine minutes, “Set In Stone” is a very well written anti-love song, and “In The Land (Of Things That Used To Be)” has a great hook that is instantly addictive.

A Good Country Mile is an album that proves Kevn Kinney still has plenty of creative juice left in his tank, and plenty of support from Anton Fier and The Golden Palominos. This is an album that is hard to put down and more enjoyable with each addition listen.

A Good Country Mile is out now on Almost Loaded.