The Pernell Reichert Band
The Road (You Ain’t the One) (Independent)
Awkward! The Pernell Reichert Band lays its cards on the table right off the top here, with “Baby Come On Now”, where the band’s eponymous frontman implores the object of his affection to return his feelings while simultaneously threatening to kill her if she steps out of line. It’s not exactly PC, but it is in the grand and menacing tradition of “Baby Let’s Play House” and “Run for Your Life”, so we’ll give Reichert the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s giving voice to a fictional character.
Whatever the case, “Baby Come On Now” is a honky-tonkin’ stomper that would make a good soundtrack for a barroom brawl that spills out in the street, leaving you kickin’ and a-gougin’ in the mud, blood, and beer. It’s also what the Pernell Reichert Band (rounded out by drummer Tom Tischer and bassist Ross Fairbairn) does best: up-tempo, electric numbers that show off the trio’s country chops. A prime example is “The Voices”, which clatters along to a rolling-train beat and features a tunefully tasty guitar solo from Cory Hawthorne, who also guests on two other tracks.
Things are a little less satisfying when the group slows things down and gets folky, largely because that’s when it becomes evident that Reichert’s vocal range is a little limited and that his lyrics can be…odd. If what you’re looking for in your roots music is in-depth analysis of local transportation infrastructure, Reichert’s got you sorted with “Downtown”: “People pay for most of the transit with their fares/But drivers think the transit levy’s so much better,” he sings. But he doesn’t stop there: “People like to nag, bitch, complain about the bus/As they commute on into town/Football fans and hockey fans love to hate the bus/But they know it’s the only way to get downtown.”
Reichert clearly doesn’t shy away from including a lot of detail in his lyrics, but it would arguably be more fun if he spent more time making threats of bodily harm and less time penning editorials about TransLink.