Living on the County Line
The songs on this album, all written by lead singer and guitarist Craig Clifford, weave together the people and places of Erath County, Texas. A concept album united by recurring characters and events and the spirit of a place, it ranges from the up-beat rockabilly sound of "Living Wet in a Dry County" to the poignant slice of Texas life in "Three-Quarter Time" to the dark and chilling drama of "The Back Road Home from Proctor" to the Dylanesque talking blues of "The Libneck Anthem." In the tradition of Texas singer-songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Clifford is first and foremost a storyteller inspired by the lives of the people he sees every day. "They are, like all humans, flawed and fated by their circumstances, but their grit and heart make me want to write songs about them," he says in the liner notes. The three band members bring together a combination of musical styles that results in a unique sound. Clifford plays a folk-country finger-picking style on acoustic guitar, with elements of early Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, David Rodriguez, and Merle Travis. His vocals have been described by reviewers as "part country, part pastoral folk," "countrified folk rock," "honey over sandpaper," and "a combination of quality, character, and emotion." Clifford also throws in a little harmonica from time to time. Jim Easterling plays drums and sings harmony. His drum set, tailored for the unique sound of the Accidental Band, combines a scaled-down trap set with an assortment of add-ons ranging from bongos to a Turkish bell acquired on a recent trip to Istanbul. His style moves from a straight-up country beat on songs like "Clueless in Love" to mallets and toms reminiscent of an Irish bodhrán on songs like "Living by the Gun" to a Mexican military snare sound on "Rosa." Nancy Easterling plays a fretless bass that complements the sound of the acoustic guitar, moving from a pared-down style that fits the more reflective finger-picking ballads to a roadhouse walking bass that gives a honky-tonk feel to some of the upbeat songs.