Nick Pivot is nothing if not committed. In 1970, the singer-guitarist hitched his way to Nashville with his sights set on becoming a country singer. That's kind of the same as going to L.A. to become an actor. Predictably, he returned home soon afterward and, before long, started playing with Bootsey X & the Lovemasters. His country dream appeared to be all but forgotten.
Not so. It may have taken him 40 years, but Pivot has finally put together the sort of authentic, heart-tearing, whisky-drinking outlaw country band — in the spirit of classic artists like Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson — that he has been dreaming of since that ill-fated trip to Tennessee decades ago. The musicians that he's pulled together for the project are particularly impressive.
The songwriting and vocals are split between Pivot and Vito Marchione. Both know how to spin a yarn with humor and heartbreak in equal measure. Orbitsuns man Sir Tim Duvalier plays the living shit out of his lap steel here (which is par for course), while Tim Pak (of the Salt Miners) contributes dobro. And Johnny Miller (also of the Salt Miners as well as Duende!, etc) plays bass on the CD, although he was recently replaced for live shows by Gary Rasmussen of the Up and Sonic's Rendezvous Band.
Unsurprisingly, considering that list of characters, the musicianship on this EP is immaculate and precise. The cover of Haggard's "The Bottle Let Me Down" is executed with almost as much tired emotion as the Hag's beautiful original. Most impressive here though, are the five original compositions. "Fast Women, Slow Songs" and "Lips, Hips & Wits" are both blatant, self-evident expressions of what muses drive Pivot, while "Calling Your Name" finds Marchione lamenting a lost love with what appears to be genuine woe. "Gene Pool" is the best of the bunch, though, with Pivot unafraid to play on stereotypes by telling the tale of an inbred redneck yokel and his cousin, tongue firmly in cheek.
Just whose cheek his tongue is in remains a musical mystery, though.
Brett Callwood writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.