My review of Flatt Lonesome’s disappointing debut disc has been posted to Fervor Coulee Bluegrass.
The bluegrass world is pretty insular, and writing negatively about any band’s recording isn’t commonly done. For the most part, I avoid writing negative reviews for any number of reasons including it makes me feel like a heel. Still, sometimes albums come out and appear to be embraced by the bluegrass community, and I just can’t figure out why. This is one of those times, and I felt compelled to stand up and write what I have been thinking since hearing the album a couple weeks back.
As a very independent writer, it is not in my ‘best’ interest to write negative reviews. I rely on publicists, labels, and artists to get albums into my hands. I’ve learned the hard way that if you slag an artist, you get ‘cut off.’ I haven’t received an album directly from Rural Rhythm- or their publicist- since I wrote negatively about one of their most insipid releases five years ago.
And that’s their perogative. I hope that doesn’t happen this time, but I can live better with myself having written honestly than cocooning faint praise within a publicity piece. Chris Jones, always insightful, is touching on this type of writing over at Bluegrass Today. I’ve likely been guitly of doing this type of thing in the past, at least in my days with Bluegrass Now where negative reviews were not permitted; if you wanted to be even a little critical, you had to couch your writing in the manner Jones describes in his first example.
In those days, Bluegrass Now was paying me to write for them, so I had to follow their guidelines. Now, I’m writing for myself, and on a good day, a few hundred others. I owe it to myself, the people who read my writing, and to the artists I write about to do so as honestly and as transparently as possible. I’ve written positively about artists who have personally insulted and offended me, or who have shown up for gigs (apparently) coked to the gills, or who have been less than forthright or honest in their dealings with myself and those I’ve worked with. That is how it should be- when writing, I am doing so from a critical not personal perspective.
I don’t expect to get a thank you note from Flatt Lonesome, or their publicist, for this review. I don’t expect them to even care what I’ve written. That isn’t why I write about roots music. I do hope I guide some readers toward making a more thoughtful decision before laying out ten or fifteen dollars for their album.
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
BTW- I’m listening to Leeroy Stagger’s Radiant Land right now, and dang- it is freaking great!