There are a couple of stereotypes related to country music that Michael Van & The Movers heavily use in their aptly titled album A Little More Country. Released in December 2016, the 13 tracks are so heavily country that they cannot possibly be misfiled under any other genre—and amusing fact when Michael Van has stated quite emphatically that cowboy boots hurt his feet… And that he is from the San Francisco Bay area, a place usually not associated with country music.
The entire set is soothing and smooth, from the slowest ballad or the quick pace of the most festive number. The band chose to focus on celebrating the simple things in life, which are in themselves, extremely rich and multi-layered. This is reflected in the consistently richness of the composition, lyrics, and delivery, which comes at the same time as a certain straightforwardness that simplicity allows for.
It might seem at first contradictory, to be searching for the richness in the simple things in life, or, for that matter, to create simple songs that embodies this richness. Furthermore, this contradiction is nurtured by the discourses in the music industry that encourage layering and experimenting, extra texturing and over-the-top delivery.But is one takes the time to slow down and reflect on what this statement means, it becomes somewhat self-evident that each moment in one’s life is filled more than we could ever imagine. And so, the band confidently explores the richness in the simple things in life, so confidently, in fact, that it encourages those who think it’s a contradiction to think about it (and perhaps even accept how true this is).
Title track “A Little More Country” gives a great feel for the rest of the album. The lyrics cover some very stereotypical country images, including the cozy and heartwarming one of playing music in one’s yard by individuals wearing cowboy hats. “Gimme Back My Guitar” sounds like the title of a humoristic song; although catchy, this number is actually quite potent in the message it conveys: the importance of communication. “Center Of The Universe” has a great sing-along quality; but Van’s vocals shine particularly on “Don’t Mind It If I Do”.
The vocals and harmonies in “Juanita” add to an already great song that features some amazing musicianship. The unique and modern-sounding details that pepper the album particularly shine in this number. Bluegrass tinged “Skedaddle Mountain Lullaby” is a little darker, which contrasts with the energy and passion of tracks such as “Gettin Drunk On A Monday” and the waltz-like ballad “Love Me Till Thursday”. The lyrics in “Sounds Like Rain” are heartbreaking—as all songs that discuss violence and poverty are—
In A Little More Country, Michael Van and the Movers guide listeners expertly through a kaleidoscope of emotions and feelings. Tracks are available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information is available on the band’s Facebook page.