Diversions


Music Review: The Deep Vibration by uncdiversions
May 8, 2009, 9:15 pm
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The Deep Vibration

Veracruz

(Dualtone)

There comes a point in any genre, particularly one so long successful and built of such simple parts as country rock, where you start to think that maybe there’s just no point in doing it anymore. I mean, every thing’s been done here anyway, so why keep on trying?

The answer is that when played with passion and written with keen-eyed, original songwriting, anything can be given new life.

And on its EP Veracruz, Nashville’s the Deep Vibration follow in the steps of such greats as Bob Dylan and the Band and Whiskeytown in combining bar-rock blues with an air of still upbeat emotion that gives the songs the impression of a man sobbing even though he still has a smile on his face.

On opener “Oklahoma City Woman Blues (Veracruz)” lead singer Matt Campbell revisits Dylan’s Basement Tapes territory in heading down to Mexico to escape heartbreak. The only difference is where Dylan saw hope in the redemptive power of Acapulco, Campbell only finds more sadness.

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“Senorita, won’t you sing a song so sweet, won’t you get me up off my feet and get these Oklahoma City woman blues off my mind,” Campbell sings as the song’s blaring blues guitar quiets down for a rare second, turning up the growl in his emotionally rugged voice to the point of crazed depression. He wants her voice to take away his pain, but in the end he’s going to have to get over it himself.

On “Thanks to You” the band breathes new life into Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Shuffle with rollicking rock ‘n’ roll that dances with all the sensual joy of Rosalita’s hips, and the wit in the songwriting lives up to the promise. “Thanks to you I’m like a man without any hands, I try to hold you, but I don’t have a chance,” Campbell sings with a voice that painfully enjoys the irony in his joke.

And luckily for a band that’s so heavy in influences, the Deep Vibration is incredibly forthcoming in accepting its place in the progression of Americana. In the old-fashioned guitar-and-harmonica journey song “Tennessee Rose,” Campbell sings “I’m driving out west to New Mexico in my 1998 Volvo.” Amid references to Dylan’s “Desolation Row” and U2’s Joshua trees, he envisions himself going on a modern pilgrimage to America’s last stretch of real West in the only way he can: driving down the interstate in his compact sedan.

While it might not be the traditional horseback journey into the wilderness of old folk, it’s still filled with that overwhelmingly American desire for traveling away from your troubles. As with every other song on this five-track EP, the Deep Vibration relates such desires with the expressive instrumentation and impassioned vocals that make the best in the genre great.

And for that reason, Veracruz is perfectly deserving of a place in your record collection alongside the Dylans and the Cashes and Youngs, though it’s certainly not worth the same number of spins.

The Deep Vibration plays Cat’s Cradle tomorrow night with Roman Candle and Keegan Dewitt. The show starts at 9 p.m. and costs $10.

– By Diversions Editor Jordan Lawrence

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