Throwback country music is a saving grace for me these days. I’m growing weary of felt hats and custom-fitted Americana coupled with the atrocity of radio-induced contemporary rubbish and its creative null. Enter The Kernal to keep firm that middle ground that he’s been a part of for years, backing homies and mainstays in that beautiful grey area of modern country sounds with a hint of rock’n’soul. Folks like the incomparable former Johnny Corndawg (now Johnny Fritz), the sweet, sad croon of Andrew Combs, and support slots for John Paul White of The Civil Wars notoriety.
Old souls who sing country music resonate. Unafraid to show his weirdness and conversely lampooning it like a badge of honor is the path of The Kernal. His debut solo album, Light Country, out now on Single Lock Records, is as much folk as funk, punk as crunk, yet still more country than 97% of others shamelessly flaunting the tag: country ‘artist’. Cloaked in his southern roots, The Kernal fires missives in this quaint little 8 pack. He even adds samples of old reel-to-reel tapes of his neighboring state of Georgia kinfolk whooping up in a gospel-tinged joyful noise in album closer and bon-a-fide highlight, “I Understand”.
On the note of familial musical kinship, The Kernal’s daddy was a guitar slinger for the great Del Reeves, and the man’s dapper red suit is the one worn by The Kernal for the front cover art of Light Country and adorned in the video below for “Knock-Kneed Ballerina”. Light Country is a hootenanny from start to finish, touching on all emotes fit to conjure. The Kernal takes you from the off-kilter eye, and album opener, “Where We’re Standing” to the goofy yet addictive country boogie of “At The Old Taco Bell”, to the Waylon-esque story ditty of “Knock-Kneed Ballerina”, the breezy air of “Lubbock County” and “Tennessee Sun”, the sprawling landscapes and laid-back grooves of “Cold Shoulder” and “Try Again”, to the glorious ending of the aforementioned “I Understand”. The Kernal delivers in popping fashion: crack musicianship, great songs, and an assured sense of self. A definite keeper…fish on.