Album Review: Searching for the Song by Andy Vaughan and the Driveline

Listening to the eleven tunes on Searching for the Song is like feeding quarters into a dusty juke box in a throwback honky tonk. Fans of classic country are rewarded by strains of Hank, Waylon, and Buck. Guitars, pedal steel, and even Mariachi horns recall Bakersfield and Nashville rebellion. Richmond-based Andy Vaughan and the Driveline are not aiming to reinvent country; the band is committed to tried and true country formulas from the 1960s and 70s – an aesthetic that sits just fine with this reviewer.

By contrast to the slickly produced pop currently dominating the country airwaves, the production values on Searching for the Song are reassuringly spartan; it’s hard to imagine this combo sounds much different in a live setting, which is exactly how it should be with music written for lonely dives and late night truck drives. The guitar sounds on this album are particularly enjoyable. Whether acoustic or electric, the tones are untainted by excessive processing or effects. Nothing cuts through the mix liked a cranked combo amp, and one can here the tubes cooking on Searching. I particularly enjoyed the warbling flanged tone on the closing track, “Don’t Tell Me I Ain’t Country,” a respectful nod to Waylon Jennings’ tooled leather Telecaster.

If there’s any criticism to be leveled at this otherwise solid sophomore effort, it’s a lack of continuity owing to the diversity of the song cycle – the band is clearly adept across a range of styles, but still seems to be finding its own unique voice. That said, it’s a lot of fun hearing the Driveline ply run through a range of classic country idioms; highlights include the Tex-Mex polka of “I Don’t Care,” Bob Wills-style western swing on “Swing that Hammer Down,” and the rock inflected boogie-woogie of “Giggle and a Wiggle.” Let’s hope for the sake of country music that Andy Vaughan and the Driveline keep up their search for the song.

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