DocFell & Co Strum It Up With Dignity on ‘Dust Bowl Heart’ (ALBUM REVIEW)


From the small town of Tahlequah, Oklahoma is DocFell & Co. with their dose of Americana/Country, slowly singing tunes direct from their Dust Bowl Heart. Raised on the sounds of Cash, Haggard, Nelson and Jennings the group took less of the outlaw spirit and more direct songwriting that those legends put forth with doses of modern day country to sweeten the sound for some ears.

Opening with the stark “Lonesomeville” the players paint a desolate picture of back woods isolation whose bleakness is haunting. Things change quickly however as the main players Dr. John Fell (Guitar) Kyle Brown (Guitar/Mandolin) John Barker (Bass), Kevin Rose and Joe Sloan (percussion) all join in and put a slicker sound on the rest of the album.

When the full band tries to kick the dust off the honkytonk floor with tracks like “Love Sick” and “Broken Heart” they are less successful. Their energy for these more upbeat numbers is restrained and where their heroes would have raged with wild abandon DocFell & Co. remains timid in their playing with choruses easily forgotten. That restraint is also found on modern day Nashville sounding tracks like the saccharine “Oklahoma Lady” or the plain “Home On The Hill” both of which are overproduced and removed from that more successful stripped down Americana.

The group does hit a sweet spot however with “The Less I Know,” an excellent track that skirts the band’s middle ground and is supported by the strongest lyrics on the disk. Complete with duet male and female vocals it is a standout with lines like “I’m searching for truth, in the lies that I’ve been told. Seems the more I learn about love, the less I know”. “Dandelions” also owns its country spirit bringing in electric guitars and violins (also with excellent backing vocals) while looking towards a more positive future and sound.       

The title track is a fresh slice of bluegrass, a fun back porch hoedown and this more natural sound fits the band excellently. They close their album with an ode to Woody Guthrie titled “This Machine,” which has the company strumming the strings and singing until the sun comes up.

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