Talk About Country is the debut album from Legends Of Country, an English Alt-country band formed by Jof Owen from The Boy Least Likely To with Adam Chetwood and Rob Jones. Inspired by a long standing love of country music and memories of growing up watching Pebble Mill and listening to Johnny Cash and George Hamilton IV, their songs combine a classic old country sound with an honest and unmistakeable English indiepop charm. Heartfelt and uplifting with a truckload of chicken pickin' and country swagger thrown in.
The ironically understated and reflective lyrics take on the absurdities of modern life and middle age, the depressing reality of ageing and the frustrating responsibilities of adulthood. Colloquial and quintessentially English - full of references to A roads and seaside towns, little chefs and Benson and Hedges - it's an album about small town success and the failure that sometimes follows, about finding love late in life and looking back on what might have been.
The album was produced and mixed by Rob Jones (Sweet Baboo, The School, Rozi Plain) and includes the singles Talk About Country, It's A Long Way Back From A Dream and Jelly And Jam. With Duane Eddy style guitar, pedal steel and mariachi trumpets blasting away, the title track is a role call of "country" icons from Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn to darts player Jocky Wilson and the beat writer Carolyn Cassady. It features Liz from The School on vocals.
It's A Long Way Back From A Dream tells the story of the darts player, Richie Burnett, driving down from South Wales as the defending champion to compete in the 1996 World Darts Championship in Surrey on New Years Eve. He ended up losing the final and fourteen years later he was living on the dole in the Rhondda Valley, struggling to make ends meet after he had quit the sport entirely, unable to balance his darts career with his day job and failing marriage.
From the playful Tex-Mex of As Country As They Come to the zydeco infused shuffle of If I Knew What I Was Doing I'd Be Dangerous, the album passionately embraces a host of country styles peppering them with a hint of jangly C86 derived indiepop. The stark Americana of The Saturday Dads is a poignant reflection on absent fathers and rainy afternoons in the park.
Elsewhere, the band lugubriously embrace middle age on Old Guns and the triumphant Forty In The Spring, celebrating a mid-life crisis with whiskey and Wellbutrin and a wardrobe full of unflattering clothes. Turn To Dolly, which looks back on a childhood spent alone, finding comfort in country music and female superheroines, was co-written with Pete Hobbs, the musical half of The Boy Least Likely To.
Aside from the tongue-in-cheek band name, the only real hint of irony here derives from the fact that one of the most exciting country records of the year has come out of North London, not Nashville.