Maple Run Band
Used To Be The Next Big Thing
Seamlessly Going Through the Americana Gears on Some Interesting and Insurgent Country Backroads.
We loved the debut album by Maple Run Band a couple of years ago; so when this arrived after it had already been released (forgivable from an Indie act doing their own promotion) it went straight onto the office hi-fi; and only three songs in took preference over the large ‘to do’ pile …. sometimes music ‘gets’ me like that.
The title track, Used To Be The Next Big Thing is one of those songs that very few songwriters get to write in their careers; it’s so good it is already in my Top 10 songs of 2022! ‘Write about what you know’ they6 say; well Trevor Crist has done just that; and then some ….. his use of imagery on a song about a musician looking back on a stalled career is genuinely exceptional and will make 90% of musicians that hear it; nod sagely. While I’ve never been a musician; it also becomes a metaphor for my career about twenty years ago … and will many other music fans.
That melody only whets the appetite for what follows; a mild barrage of Modern Country songs, with an Americana spine; but steeped in Traditional Country values and sentiments, starting with Track #2 Loretta, a heart-worn tale of a lover who left ‘without ever saying goodbye’.
OK, this is an ages old Country theme; but the drole and sad manner in which Crist sings; best described as ‘worn down’ and the band intimately playing their instruments makes for a very memorable 4 minutes or so.
It’s hard to say where Maple Run Band fit in these days; but I recently saw Jason Isbell and I’m pretty damn sure they would have made a better support act than the one I saw that night; especially songs like the tragically beautiful Birmingham and Still Believe which would have fit in seamlessly with his fans.
There’s a delightful change in tempo as we go through the gears; not least when drummer Nicole Valcour gets a spot in the limelight singing Mud River, with Crist supplying breathless harmonies and then the band cruise down the Country highway on a sunny day with Tumbleweeds and When You’re Around; and in between they go for the heartstrings with the snappy Tears of a Fool; which has hints of Merle and Waylon on the chorus if I’m not mistaken and as usual; all sound ‘believable.’
Speaking of which, album closer Sunny Day doesn’t conjure up those exact images as Crist goes all maudlin on a tale of grief and sorrow with ironic undertones …. which appeal to me like you wouldn’t believe; and the soaring harmonies remind me (and absolutely no one else of Chris and Pauline Adams from 70’s Folk/Prog Rockers String Driven Thing!)
For my Favourite Song I’m actually going left of centre, although Sunny Day and the opener Used To Be The Next Big Thing would be stand out tracks on any album released this year or next; but ….. the break-up song, Damned Old Song is the sort of story I wish Johnny Cash could have picked up on during his American series of albums; perhaps there’s still time for someone of that ilk to pick up on it and make Trevor Crist, Nicole Valcour and bass player, ‘Spence’ Spencer aka Maple Run Band the a second opportunity at being The Next Big Thing!
Released 11th November 2022
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