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AAA Music | 12 April 2021

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Paul Heaton – Acid Country

| On 14, Sep 2010

I seem to have spent a lot of time reviewing country albums recently (not a complaint) and Acid Country by Paul Heaton is not an exception in general (apart from the clever use of synthesizers). However it has a certain chilled feel and good humoured nature detectable no matter what preconceptions of country one may have. Dissecting the style of Heaton leaves you with ingredients each excellent on their own: slightly satirical tongue-in-cheek lyrics, simple but driving drums, sliding bass, clever and slightly grimy synths, clean guitars and occasional choral harmony parts. When combined into the final tracks however, the real shine breaks through.

            The Old Radio kicks off the album with a “Don Mclean”-sounding ode to older music, mentioning classics like Jailhouse Rock and Georgia Rain and introducing the style of the music to come: jokey English country. Even A Palm Tree starts with a set of lyrics already typical of Heaton:

“I can’t find you attractive without drugs!”

“What about getting plain drunk?” She shrugs

“I mean flies love sh*t and lizards love bugs”

“Yeah, but there aint no sense sleeping with slugs”

I cannot see any possible way in which a song beginning like this can stop being entertaining…ever! The inspiration and humour present lead me to laugh quite a few times to myself as I listened; definitely one of the best songs on the album.

            Young Man’s Game provides a laid back, slightly mellow, reflective interlude before the album jumps back into the upbeat country with Welcome to the South. This song hit wonderfully close to home due to my origins in the South of England, every word rang with at least a hint of truth. I’m not quite sure where the appeal actually lies in Acid Country; however it is most definitely present and prominent. There is a certain attraction people feel to excellent key changes, chord progressions and harmonica solos which has fuelled a sort of recent revival of country. Paul Heaton has brought a new look to country in my eyes and with the release of this new album I’m sure the new look will spread. I have one thing to disagree on however; St Albans is a very good place to drink a beer!

Author: Fancis Windram