Hailing from the heart of railroad country in Opelika, Alabama, cosmic country outfit B.B. Palmer have made a name for themselves over the past several years, honing a sound steeped in the traditions of American country music.
The band’s latest offering, Krishna Country, sees the group approaching their craft with a much more expansive worldview — folding traditional Indian sounds into their work and creating a further-mesmerizing brand of ethereal roots music. On paper, it might seem an unexpected or jolting shift in direction, but for B.B. Palmer it’s simply the next step forward in their collective journey.
Glide is premiering the encapsulating “Many Worlds Theory” that takes facts of George Harrison, Father John Misty, and Devendra Banhart into a twangy mystic stew that forms its own baroque twang style. There is an ageless storytelling touch to the band’s freak-folky vocals and when mixed with sitar and other eastern ingredients, we can call this one “rejuvenated Americana.”
A native of Theodore, Alabama, Bernard Palmer (the band’s namesake) was raised as a strict Catholic. It wasn’t until a few years ago — following a moment of what could well be described as divine intervention — that he found himself drawn to a belief system far different from that of his youth.
“I found a copy of the Bhagavad Gita,” Palmer recalls. “I can’t remember where I found it, if someone gave it to me, or if it just materialized — but I’m thinking it’s the latter, because I just can’t put a finger on it.”
He pored over the text and found that it resonated with him on a deeply personal level. This newfound enlightenment inspired Palmer to dive even deeper into Indian culture, and he was hooked from the start. He began listening to and studying raga, a classical style of Indian music, and applied these eastern influences in his own songcraft. Krishna Country showcases his discoveries from this newfound styling, blending his honky-tonk roots with a yet-untapped well of musical modes and instrumentation from India.
“It was the duality of it all that made it so natural,” he notes while mentioning that the studio had always felt tiresome and tedious prior to this project. “Everything fell into place so effortlessly. That made it unique in the way that we’ve never had in the recording process before.”
“I thought he had lost his mind,” guitarist Josh “Bucky” McKenzie says of the day Palmer floated the initial concept. “We had no money to do this. Where would we find the money, let alone someone to play sitar, horn players, engineers, extra session players, and how in the hell would we record it?”
McKenzie recalls Palmer seeming unphased by these looming challenges, as if he had already seen the project come together before it even began. Sure enough, things started to fall into place. The group were able to source a sitar player (in Alabama, of all places) on short notice, schedules lined up for their first-choice studio players, and studio staff offered their services pro-bono, excited at the prospect of this new and different endeavor. Krishna Country came together swiftly against all odds, seemingly out of thin air.
“I remember when B.B. came to me a couple years back with the idea to do a fusion record mixing instruments from India (i.e. sitars) with the cosmic country sound we had built over the first two albums. He began quoting Vedic scripture to me…I thought he had lost his mind. One thing you got to know is that we had no money to do this. As a working band, we have always funded the records we put out by ourselves, primarily through money we put aside from the road.
I started thinking how impossible of a task this could be, where would we find the money? Let alone someone to play sitar, studio costs, horn players, engineers, extra session players, and how in the hell would we record it?
B.B. seemed to be un-phased by it for the most part, like he had seen it happen already. Sure as shit, everything started falling into place almost effortlessly. I would say 90% of the project was done pro-bono by folks like JP Molpus (head engineer) who dedicated their time for no charge at all. Session musicians who we had met in the past like horn players Martin Sager and Jonathan Avant, sitar & pedal steel player Davis Little, gave us their time and effort for little to nothing in order to fit our tiny budget. The entire Krishna Country project so far has been a labor of love, reflecting the spiritual nature of the songs and ideas themselves.”