We don’t hear a lot of real country & western music today. Even a down-on-his-luck, rural-based word hack writing on the periphery of the roots music gauntlet seldom comes across the real deal—the head-on-the-bar, teardrops in corrosive whiskey, barstool philosophy variety, punctuated with essential moaning pedal steel.
Good thing then that folk like Skinny Dyck haven’t lost our email address. Someone once wrote of Ryan Dyck, Lethbridge’s own mid-evening, country-spinning radio host: “a seasoned purveyor of hot twang and battered heart honky tonk.” Bred and built for Fervor Coulee, then.
Do-it-yourselfers of the highest order, Skinny Dyck and The Juicebox Kid (Evan Uschenko) sing and play almost all the parts on this Covid-19 isolation project. Recorded over less than a week in late March, the ten songs are unified in their tone and atmosphere, a bit of Merle (whose “Running Kind” is the disc’s sole cover) mixed in with the sound of another era—think Bobby Austin, Tony Booth, and Johnny Bond with nods to Mr. Wagoner and the Buckaroos.
An album of liquid truths and lies of commission, every song on Get To Know Lonesome would be welcome on Dale Watson’s favourite radio program. “One more little teardrop’s not going to kill you,” he sings on the title cut, further suggesting, “you’ll need to part with any pride you ever had” to get over heartache.
A bit later, he offers “Praise to the Queen” while recalling that “The River Remembers,” a gem of a metaphorical composition. With most songs coming in under three minutes, Dyck cuts to the core with his songs: rhythm, rhyme, three chords and mis-remembered truth.
A mid-set song like “Dreamin’” refreshes the palate after several servings of unabashed Bakersfield-soaked sounds. A bit more cosmopolitan in the Nashvillian sense, “Dreamin’” chugs along as a late-night soundscape, slicing through darkness while city lights pulse in the distance. Over a pulsating backbeat, with twangy guitar notes and ‘barely there’ vocal textures (maybe Shaela Miller’s), Dyck contemplates: “Arizona heart, keeps me warm until the sun goes down; as the dawn’s about to break, are you finally seeing what I saw? I’m dreamin’, dreamin’ away the time.”
Wide cut country doesn’t get much better than this beautiful, understated album from southern Alberta’s Skinny Dyck.