Simon Flory Channel '70s Country On “Haul Away The Blues”

In 2021 so far, the country music fan base is so fragmented that fans of the cross-over country albums on the Billboard Top 10 and fans of Americana heroes like Chris Stapleton are likely not the same fans. However in the case of Simon Flory’s new album “Haul These Blues Away,” it’s pretty much guaranteed that fans of both country genres will be enthusiastic about Flory’s album because it is actually more of a folk album than it is a country album — and a 1970’s soft-rock/1970’s country rock reminiscent album to boot! 

 

In the past few years, millennials have been increasingly drawn to music that predates their birth, especially soft country folk/rock. Before the pandemic kept me away from my karaoke night, I had noticed starting in 2015 that 20 and 30-something singers at karaoke preferred to try their hand at “Black Water” or “Best of my Love” (the Eagles one) or “Amie” instead of singing newer music. 

 

A Chicago transplant to Fort Worth who had taught guitar at Chicago’s famous Old Town School of Folk Music, Simon Flory’s fluency with Dylan, The Pure Prairie League, The Eagles, The Byrds, The Marshall Tucker Band, John Denver and Linda Ronstadt (all favorites at the school) makes for some solid songwriting influences on “Haul These Blues Away” that are likely to entice a young adult audience stretched thin with post-college grown-up responsibilities. 

 

On “Haul These Blues Away,” Flory’s Gram Parsons-like “Peter Mack Built A Semi Truck”, his Pure Prairie League square dance stylings in “Hogback Road” and the Eagles-like mellow road trip song “Atoka” sidestep the question of where country music’s future is heading. Those listeners who were partial to The Drive By Truckers’ 2020 release “The New OK” as well as fans of Robbie Fulks, Steve Earle and Chris Stapleton will probably appreciate the poignant political subtext of the devil story in “Hogback Road” as well Flory’s story of how his childhood shaped him as a compassionate political activist in “Learning How to Talk.” The duet with Daisy O’ Connor on “Walking Stick” is another sweetly thrilling surprise, especially in a unique song reminiscent of Jason Isbell’s “Dreamsicle”.

 

There are so many sweet moments on this one album. The harmonies backing Flory’s lead vocals by the talented duo of Clay Parker and Jodi James on some of the tracks provide a stress-relieving mood that music fans have long appreciated whether skilled harmonies are those of The Carter Family or those of The Zac Brown Band.

 

- Jill Blardinelli


 

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