The international presence of Americana has been getting tough for even the dimmer critics around to ignore anymore, and this year, Britain’s own John Dartnell has been making big waves on both sides of the Atlantic with a countrified croon just about any fan of the aesthetic should be able to appreciate. In Dartnell’s single, “Here’s to the Road,” he combines the relaxed element of traditional American folk-rock with uniquely roots-influenced country swing and top-notch vocals that speak to the soul of the heartland in a startling adept manner, and while he might be stateside at the moment, I think he’s capturing the very essence of western melodicism rather brilliantly in this performance and giving a masterclass on doing so in the first place.
There’s undeniably a lot of emphasis being put on the lead vocal in this single, but I wouldn’t say this distracts from the color in the guitar parts or even that of the percussion in the least. Contrarily, I think that the manner in which Dartnell is singing to us allows for the undertones in this piece to really come alive with vibrancy, much as contributing a touch of conflict to an otherwise undisturbed pattern can evoke interpretations of a picture we never knew could exist. If there’s a prize to be given for indie artists making their own way without having to rely on the concepts of the experimental generation to have come before them, I think this is one player who is a frontrunner for the trophy.
This is from my new album ‘Moments Of Madness’ available from October 15th 2021
This mix fleshes out the muscularity of the strings just enough without making the instrumentation sound brawny and unnecessarily cramped beside the melody from the vocal. There have been scores of country singles coming down the pipes in the past year that just sound too cluttered to fit in with the seamless design of an offering like this one, and I believe this is going to benefit Dartnell’s career on both sides of the dial rather exceptionally. He’s one of a kind, and even if we might not have picked up on as much because of his underground status as a player, this stagnant period for his genre is giving him just the right platform to excel – and when it matters the most, I would argue.
If this is par for what John Dartnell is going to be producing in the years to come, I don’t know that there will be any getting around his swelling presence in both the international pop underground and inevitably the Nashville spotlight as well. He isn’t just setting a good example for his rivals and younger contemporaries – he’s putting on a clinic in this single, and acting like the very foundations of the harmony that would attract us to this song at its most basic and unfanciful come to him out of thin air. He’s quite gifted as a player and a songwriter, and in “Here’s to the Road,” he makes it difficult to disassociate the name John Dartnell with an important, modern movement in country music.
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